Skip to main content

Full text of "Macaulay's history of England from the accession of James II"

See other formats









T( /»!ic^nrT( /i 


Digitized  by  tine  Internet  Arcliive 

in  2010  witli  funding  from 

Lyrasis  IVIembers  and  Sloan  Foundation 



Everyman,  I  will  go  with  tiiee,  and  be  thy  guid^ 
In  thy  most  need  to  go  by  thy  side 

1800.  In  1825  he  began  contributing  to  the  Edinburgh 
Review.  He  entered  Parliament  in  1830,  and  in  1834 
became  a  member  of  the  Supreme  Council  of  India. 
In  1839  he  was  Secretary  of  War  and  in  1857  was 
raised  to  the  peerage.  Died  in  1859,  and  was  bxoried  in 
Westminster  Abbey. 






All  rights  reserved 


J.  M.  DENT  &  SONS  LTD 

Aldine  House  •  Bedford  Street  •  London 

Made  in  Great  Britain 


The  Aldine  Press  •  Letchworth  •  Herts 

First  published  1848 

First  published  in  this  edition  1906 

Last  reprinted  1953 



Thomas  Babington  Macaulay  was  bom  at  Rothley  Temple  in 
Leicestershire  on  St.  Crispin's  Day,  25th  October  1800.  At  the  age 
of  eighteen  he  went  to  Trinity  College,  Cambridge,  and  was  elected  a 
fellow  in  October  1824.  His  first  article  in  the  Edinburgh  Review,  on 
Milton,  appeared  in  August  1825.  From  that  time,  and  for  many 
years,  he  was  a  regular  contributor  and  his  writings  brought  him  to 
the  notice  of  a  Tory  Lord  Chancellor,  Lord  Lyndhurst,  who,  in  spite 
of  Macaulay's  politics,  appointed  him  a  Commissioner  in  Bankruptcy 
m  1828.  The  following  year  Lord  Lansdowne  offered  him  a  seat  in 
Parliament  without  asking  for  any  pledges  as  to  voting.  Macaulay 
made  his  first  speech  in  Parliament  on  5th  April  1830  and,  in 
1832,  became  Secretary  to  the  Board  of  Control  (which  looked  after 
the  affairs  of  the  East  India  Company).  The  following  year  he, 
with  the  chairman  of  the  Board,  was  responsible  for  piloting  through 
the  House  of  Commons  the  bill  for  renewing  the  Company's  Charter 
Soon  afterwards  he  was  offered  a  seat  in  the  Supreme  Council  of 
India,  as  constituted  by  the  new  act,  at  a  salary  of  /io,ooo  a  year 
He  sailed  for  India  in  1834,  securely  established  at  the  age  of  thirtv- 
four  alike  in  fame  and  fortune. 

Having  served  for  four  years  in  this  office  he  returned  to  England 
in  1838,  and  in  March  1839  began  his  History  of  England,  on  which 
his  fame  largely  rests,  although  it  is  certain  that  his  historic  minute 
written  as  a  Member  of  Council  in  India,  which  decided  that  the 
educational  system  of  India  should  be  devoted  to  English  not  to 
Oriental  studies,  has  had  a  greater  influence  on  the  destinies  both  of 
Great  Britain  and  of  Asia,  than  any  views  propounded  bv  the 
History.  ■' 

In  September  1839  Macaulay,  who  had  re-entered  Parliament  as 
a  supporter  of  Lord  Melbourne's  Government,  entered  the  Cabinet 
as  Secretary  at  War.  When  the  Government  fell  in  1841,  he  was 
active  m  opposition  but  was  able  to  resume  work  on  the  History 
He  returned  to  public  office  under  Lord  John  Russell  in  1846  but 
was  defeated  at  Edinburgh  at  the  general  election  of  1847  He 
re-entered  Parliament  in  1852  but  declined  the  offer  of  a  Cabinet 
post  and  made  his  last  speech  in  the  House  of  Commons  in  July 
1853.  He  was  from  1847  on,  until  his  death  in  1859,  mainly  occu- 
pied with  the  History,  the  first  and  second  volumes  of  which  were 
published  in  1848  and  the  third  and  fourth  in  1855.  The  fifth 
volume  was  published  in  1861,  after  his  death,  being  prepared  for 
the  press  by  Lady  Trevelyan. 

These  biographical  details  are  very  relevant  to  an  understanding 
ot  Macaulay's  approach  to  the  writing  of  his  History.  Macaulay 
was  by  birth  a  member  of  the  new  prosperous  trading  and  banking 
middle  class,  which  had  risen  steadily  to  opulence  and  influence 
throughout  the  eighteenth  century,  and  which,  after,  and  as  the 
result  of,  the  Reform  Act  of  1832,  attained  to  the  chief  power  in  the 



country.  Their  family  fortunes  were  founded  largely  on  commerce, 
and  the  immense  expansion  of  trade  and  manufacturing  industry 
made  them,  as  long  as  the  franchise  remained  relatively  restricted, 
extremely  secure. 

To  the  aristocrats  the  Act  of  1832  spelt  the  end  of  their  absolute 
monopoly  of  power.  To  the  country  gentlemen,  the  repeal  of  the 
Corn  Laws  spelt  impoverishment.  To  the  clergy  of  the  established 
Church,  the  challenge  of  materialism,  of  nonconformity,  of  the 
Catholic  revival,  and  of  Darwinism  spelt  anxiety  and  a  vastly 
diminished  intellectual  influence.  The  aristocratic  and  landed 
interest  was  still,  indeed,  strong  enough  politically  for  a  fairly 
regular  alternation  of  Tory  and  Whig  governments,  but  the  social 
and  psychological  climate  of  the  country  was  Whig.  The  gospel 
of  progress  seemed  proven,  the  sole  condition  being  the  progressive 
abolition  of  privilege,  both  monarchical  and  aristocratic. 

To  Macaulay,  as  to  most  others  of  his  class  and  generation,  the 
Glorious  Revolution,  the  final  triumph  over  Popery  and  absolutism, 
was  the  start  of  an  era  of  brilliant  progress  which  had  reached  its 
political  culmination  with  the  Reform  Bill  and  the  repeal  of  the 
Com  Laws,  of  which  the  material  achievement  was  symbolized  and 
displayed  in  the  Great  Exhibition  of  185 1.  It  was  an  age  of  easy 
certainties,  and  to  Macaulay  the  most  certain  of  all  things  was  that 
the  Whigs  were  the  providential  instruments  of  the  splendour  of 
England's  achievement. 

To  proclaim  this,  and  most  of  all  the  unique  greatness  of  the 
England  of  his  own  day,  was  the  purpose,  manifestly  revealed,  of 
his  great  History,  certainly  one  of  the  two  greatest  narratives,  and, 
in  the  judgment  of  most,  the  greatest,  in  our  literature. 

Fired  with  his  particular  ambition,  to  glorify  and  to  justify  a 
party,  a  creed,  and  an  epoch,  the  epoch  being  that  in  which  he  him- 
self lived,  he  achieved  it  triumphantly  according  to  the  standard 
which  he  set  himself  and  in  the  eyes  of  the  middle  class  of  his  own 
day,  for  whom  he  wrote  and  whom  it  was  his  expressed  wish  less  to 
instruct  than  to  please.  A  contemporary  reviewer  writing  in  the 
Edinburgh  Review  reflects  the  measure  of  the  delight  which  the 
History  gave  to  its  first  readers. 

"Mr  Macaulay  has  a  singular  felicity  of  style  and  as  he  moves  along 
his  path  of  narrative,  spreads  a  halo  around  him,  which  beguiles  the 
distance  and  dazzles  his  companions.  It  is  a  style,  undoubtedly, 
which  might  often  provoke  criticism,  as  far  as  artistic  rules  are  con- 
cerned; sometimes  elaborated  to  excess,  sometimes  too  familiar; 
with  sentences  too  curiously  balanced,  and  unnecessary  antitheses 
to  express  very  simple  propositions.  But  with  all  this,  and  much 
more  of  the  same  kind  that  might  be  said,  the  fascination  remains. 
The  tale,  as  we  proceed,  flows  on  faster  and  faster.  Page  after 
page  vanishes  under  the  entranced  eye  of  the  reader;  and,  whether 
we  will  or  no,  we  are  forced  to  follow  as  he  leads — so  light,  and  ga-v, 
and  agreeable  does  the  pathway  appear.  Even  on  the  most  beaten 
ground,  his  power  of  picturesque  description  brings  out  lights  and 
shadows — views  of  distances  and  of  roadside  flowers — never  seen, 
or  remarked,  or  recollected  before.  .  .  . 

"We  must  begin  by  noticing  one  cardinal  merit — almost  an 
original  one — of  Mr.  Macaulay's  book,  which  meets  us  on  the  very 
threshold.     He  is  the  first,  we  think,  who  has  succeeded  in  giving 


to  the  realities  of  history  (which  is  generally  supposed  to  demand 
and  require  a  certain  grave  austerity  of  style)  the  Hghtness,  variety, 
and  attraction  of  a  work  designed  only  to  amuse.  All  historians  we 
have  ever  read — not  excepting  Gibbon  and  Hume,  and  including  all 
others  in  our  language — are  open  to  this  remark.  To  read  them  is 
a  study,  an  effort  of  the  intellect — well  repaid  indeed  by  the  result, 
but  still  necessarily  intent  and  laborious.  Mr.  Macaulay  has,  with 
an  instinctive  sense  both  of  truth  and  of  the  power  to  realize  it, 
perceived  that  a  true  story  may  be,  and  should  be,  as  agreeably  told 
as  a  fictitious  one;  that  the  incidents  of  real  life,  whether  political 
or  domestic,  admit  of  being  so  arranged  as,  without  detriment  to 
accuracy,  to  command  all  the  interest  of  an  artificial  series  of  facts; 
that  the  chain  of  circumstances  which  constitutes  history  may  be 
as  finely  and  gracefully  woven  as  in  any  tale  of  fancy,  and  be  as 
much  more  interesting  as  the  human  countenance,  with  all  its 
glowing  reality  of  life,  and  structure,  and  breathing  beauty,  excels 
the  most  enchanting  portrait  that  ever  passed  from  the  pencil  of 
Kneller  or  of  Lawrence. 

"This  we  consider  a  very  signal  achievement.  .  .  .  Who  that  has 
read  these  two  volumes  will  ever  forget  them,  or  the  eventful  and 
stirring  scenes  they  record  ?  And  this  result  on  the  mind  of  the 
reader,  it  is  undoubtedly  the  highest  triumph  of  descriptive  or 
narrative  writing  to  produce.  The  scene  is  actually  before  us.  It 
does  not  exist  in  mere  words.  We  do  not  recollect  it  as  we  used  to 
do  Caesar  at  school — by  the  place  of  the  page  where  this  or  that  fact 
was  recorded.  We  have  pictured  to  ourselves  the  living  and  actual 
reality  of  the  men,  and  the  times,  and  the  actions  he  describes — 
and  close  the  volume  as  if  a  vast  and  glowing  pageant  had  just 
passed  before  our  eyes." 

That  this  is  what  Macaulay  chiefly  wished  to  do  is  reasonably 
certain.  In  a  letter  to  a  friend  written  on  5th  November  1841  (seven 
years  before  the  first  publication),  Macaulay  had  said,  speaking  of 
his  chosen  period,  which  he  then  intended  to  be  from  1688  to  the 
end  of  the  reign  of  George  III:  "The  materials  for  an  amusing 
narrative  are  immense.  I  shall  not  be  satisfied  unless  I  produce 
something  which  shall,  for  a  few  days,  supersede  the  last  fashionable 
novel  in  the  talk  of  young  ladies."  To  the  end  Macaulay  remained 
strangely  indifferent  to  the  accepted  canons  of  historical  criticism 
or  to  the  now  universally  accepted  standards  of  a  historian's 
responsibility.  When  his  battle  chapters  were  criticized  as  inferior 
to  those  of  the  great  contemporary  French  historian,  Thiers,  on  the 
ground  that  he  neglected  to  give  his  readers  even  such  essential  facts 
as  the  numbers  engaged,  Macaulay  contented  himself  with  the  almost 
cynical  comment  "I  hope  my  volumes  will  be  more  attractive 
reading."  When  a  more  weighty  criticism  appeared  in  the  press 
(after  the  publication  of  the  first  four  volumes),  to  the  effect  that  he 
had  gravely  underestimated  the  general  European  contribution  to 
the  allied  victories  over  Louis  XIV,  and  that  a  study  of  the  archives 
of  the  allied  states  would  have  corrected  this,  Macaulay  comments 
in  his  diary:  "As  to  grubbing  in  Saxon  or  Hessian  archives  .  .  . 
I  should  have  doubled  my  labour."  Macaulay,  morever,  seldom,  if 
ever,  made  corrections  on  points  of  fact,  when  errors  were  pointed 
out  which  could  and  should  have  been  corrected  in  subsequent  im- 
pressions, of  which  there  were  many  in  hislifetime.    The  late  Sir  Charles 


Firth,  in  his  brilliant  commentary  on  Macaulay's  book,  to  which  the 
writer  of  this  introduction  is  very  greatly  indebted,  hints  at  the 
explanation,  when  he  says  of  Macaulay's  essay  on  History  (written 
for  the  Edinburgh  Review  in  1828),  that  it  is  noteworthy  that  the 
tendency  of  modem  historians  is  to  enlarge  on  the  difficulty  of 
finding  out  the  truth,  whereas  Macaulay  enlarges  upon  the  difficulty 
of  stating  it." 

The  truth  in  plain  English  is  that  Macaulay  was,  as  Cotter 
Morison  remarked,  "deficient  in  the  true  historical  sense."  He 
compared  the  past,  to  its  disparagement,  with  the  future.  That  is 
no  blame  to  Macaulay:  to  do  this  was  his  aim.  But  it  is  the  very 
opposite  of  the  true  historical  approach,  which  is  to  seek  to  under- 
stand and  to  enable  others  to  understand,  the  problems  of  the  past 
as  they  appeared  to  those  who  had  to  solve  them,  to  get  into  the 
mind  of  past  generations,  to  understand  their  values  and  to  appraise 
them  in  the  light  of  the  beliefs  and  the  knowledge  of  the  age,  and, 
above  all,  to  judge  the  past  ages  by  their  own  standards.  It 
follows  that  the  abiding  value  of  Macaulay's  History  is  the  light  it 
throws  on  the  age  in  which,  and  for  which,  it  was  written.  We 
cannot,  if  we  have  read  it,  fail  to  understand  the  mind,  the  temper, 
and  the  morality  of  England  in  the  Indian  Summer  of  her  greatness 
in  1851. 

The  History  must  be  read  with  three  other  general  qualifications. 
Macaulay  was  uninterested  and,  broadly  speaking,  unfamiliar  with 
philosophy  and,  a  fortiori,  with  theology.  More  suprisingly,  but 
equally  certainly,  he  was  uninterested  in  political  speculation.  The 
mind  of  the  Catholic  Church  he  never  attempted  to  understand, 
although  he  made  a  manifest  effort  to  understand  the  political 
problems  of  the  English  Roman  Catholics  in  the  seventeenth  century. 
As  for  political  speculation,  the  theories  of  John  Locke,  perhaps  the 
greatest  of  Whig  political  philosophers,  who  lived  in  and  at  the 
heart  of  Macaulay's  chosen  epoch,  are  not  discussed  or  even 
summarised  in  the  History.  As  for  the  Tories,  Macaulay  hated 
them  in  his  own  day  and  he,  therefore,  hated  and  denigrated  them 
in  the  past.  He  was  particularly  prejudiced  against  the  seventeenth- 
century  country  gentlemen.  His  statement,  for  instance,  that  "the 
English  esquire  of  the  seventeenth  century  did  not  materially  differ 
from  a  rustic  miller  or  alehouse  keeper  of  our  times,"  is  plain  rubbish, 
in  the  style  of  Mr.  Lloj^d  George  in  his  Limehouse  days.  His  readers 
could  never  guess  that  the  main  burden  of  local  government  through- 
out the  seventeenth  century  and  long  afterwards  was  placed  on  the 
Justices  of  the  Peace  in  Quarter  Sessions  and  that  the  work  was,  on 
the  whole,  and  by  common  consent  of  historians  of  all  schools, 
competently  and  conscientiously  done. 

The  second  qualification  which  must  be  borne  in  mind  in  reading 
the  History  is  that  Macaulay's  temper,  as  well  as  his  intellectual 
approach,  was  unhistorical.  He  loved  rhetorical  antitheses.  To 
captivate  his  readers — and  how  well  he  succeeds — he  heightens 
contradictions,  when  it  is  the  historian's  function  to  explain  them. 
As  Samuel  Rawson  Gardiner  remarked,  his  judgment  of  situations 
is  superb,  but  his  personal  judgments  are  weak. 

Thirdly,  Macaulay  was  profoundly  insular.  A  Dutchman, 
William  III,  was,  it  is  true,  his  hero,  but  only  because  he  became  the 
champion  of  the  Whig  cause  in  England,  whereas  in  fact  William 


came  to  England  only  because  it  was  only  by  so  doing  that  he  could 
tip  the  balance  of  power  in  Europe  against  Louis  XIV.  Macaulay 
throughout  underestimates  the  contribution  of  the  allied  European 
powers  to  the  victory  over  Louis  XIV,  which  served  the  liberties  of 
all.  Most  particularly,  he  misjudged  the  indispensable  contribution 
of  the  Austrians  in  halting  and  finally  breaking  the  military  power 
of  Turkey  in  Europe.  As  Sir  Charles  Firth  said,  "for  the  sake  of 
displaying  one  giant  [William  III],  he  peoples  all  Europe  with 

There  are  few  errors  of  fact  in  Macaulay's  History,  despite  the 
great  detail  of  its  narrative,  and  very  few  indeed  which  Macaulay 
could  have  corrected,  but  he  is  notably  unjust  and  inaccurate  in  his 
charges  against  William  Penn,  Graham  of  Claverhouse,  and  Lord 
Torrington.  There  are  also  a  number  of  curious  omissions  in  the  History. 
There  is  no  discussion  of  American  and  Colonial  trade.  The  Navigation 
Acts  are  not  mentioned.  The  great  increase  of  overseas  trade 
between  the  Restoration,  in  1660,  and  the  end  of  the  century  (it 
was  nearly  doubled),  is  not  mentioned.  The  measures  for  the  pro- 
tection of  agriculture  are  not  mentioned.  The  very  important 
Settlement  Act  of  1662,  which  prevented  people  moving  in  search  of 
work,  is  not  mentioned,  nor  the  increase  in  the  expenditure  on  poor 
relief  in  William  Ill's  reign,  largely  due  to  the  seven  years  of  bad 
harvests  and  depression  from  1792  to  1798.  There  is  no  mention 
of  the  precise  strength  of  William  Ill's  invasion  army.  Little  is 
said  of  the  immense  significance  to  the  story  of  the  British  Empire 
of  the  War  of  the  Grand  Alliance ;  generally,  the  colonial  history  of 
the  period  is  sketchy  to  a  degree. 

It  is  a  tribute  to  the  essential  greatness  of  the  History  and  to  the 
grandeur  of  its  narrative  style  that  these  defects  of  approach  and 
temper  have  to  be  mentioned  and  these  omissions  noted.  Macaulay 
set  out  to  paint  a  picture  of  an  age,  of  the  balance  of  political  forces, 
of  the  social  and  economic  conditions  of  all  classes,  of  the  clash  of 
personalities,  to  rekindle  the  ashes  of  its  controversies,  to  reawaken 
its  passions,  and  all  the  time  to  point  the  contrast,  sometimes 
overtly,  sometimes  implicitly,  with  the  England  of  his  own  day. 
He  succeeded  so  superbly  that  no  one  who  wishes  to  study  the  period 
of  which  he  wrote  can  do  othenvise  than  begin  with  Macaulay;  no 
one  who  begins  Macaulay  will  stop  until  he  has  finished  him,  and  all 
who  do  so  will  be  largely,  and  for  ever,  influenced  by  him.  As 
Leslie  Stephen  said,  "the  pictures  which  he  has  drawn  have,  rightly 
or  wrongly,  stamped  themselves  ineffaceably  upon  the  popular 

Ranke,  the  most  cold-blooded  and  cautious  of  German  historians, 
went  so  far,  in  1875,  as  to  say  that  Macaulay's  History  decided  the 
victory  of  the  Whig  view  and,  thus,  permanently  deflected  the 
course  of  English  politics.  I  believe  that  judgment  must  stand. 
Even  to-day,  almost  exactly  a  hundred  years  after  the  first  publica- 
tion of  the  History,  to  doubt  the  wisdom  or  propriety  of  the  Eliza- 
bethan religious  settlement,  to  defend  the  actions  and  policies  of  the 
Stuarts,  to  doubt  the  justification  of  the  Rebellion  and  the  glorious 
nature  of  the  Revolution  of  1688,  is,  in  the  general  view,  to  assert 
a  paradox.  The  "paradox"  has  been  often  and  learnedly  asserted 
in  our  own  day  by  scholars  of  much  higher  rank  and  students  of 
religion  and  politics  far  more  profound  than  Macaulay,  but,  until 


another  historian  of  his  literary  genius  arises,  Macaulay's  view  will 
remain  the  view  of  the  ordinary  citizen. 

It  is  time  now  for  the  purchaser  of  the  book  to  begin  his  reading 
of  the  History.  When  he  has  finished  it,  and  despite  its  great 
length  the  reading  will  not  take  him  very  long,  because  of  the  vigour 
and  brilliance  of  the  narrative,  he  will  know  the  answer  to  the 
pregnant  question  put  by  the  great  liberal  historian.  Lord  Acton, 
in  a  letter  to  Mary  Gladstone. 

"Remember  that  the  essays  are  really  flashy  and  superficial.  .  .  . 
It  is  the  history  that  is  wonderful.  He  knew  nothing  respectably 
before  the  seventeenth  century,  he  knew  nothing  of  foreign  history, 
of  religion,  philosophy,  science,  or  art.  .  .  .  He  is,  I  am  persuaded, 
grossly,  basely  unfair.  Read  him  therefore  to  find  out  how  it  comes 
that  the  most  unsympathetic  of  critics  can  think  him  very  nearly 
the  greatest  of  English  writers." 

Douglas  Jerrold. 
May  1953. 


The  following  is  a  list  of  Lord  Macaulay's  works  as  first  published  in  book  form  during 
his  lifetime: 

1 819    Pompeii  (prize  poem). 
1821    Evening  (prize  poem). 

1842  Lays  of  Ancient  Rome. 

1843  Critical  and  historical  essays. 

These  essays  originally  appeared  in  the  Edinburgh  Review  as  follows:  Milton, 
August  1825;  Machiavelli,  March  1827;  Hallam's  Constitutional  History,  Sep- 
tember 182S;  Southey's  Colloquies,  January  1830;  R.  Montgomery's  Poems, 
April  1830;  Civil  Disabilities  of  Jews,  January  1831;  Byron,  June  1831;  Croker's 
Boswell,  September  1831;  Pilgrim's  Progress,  December  1831;  Hampden, 
December  1831;  Burleigh,  April  1832;  War  of  Succession  in  Spain,  January 
1S33;  Horace  Walpole,  October  1833;  Lord  Chatham,  January  1834;  Mackin- 
tosh's History  of  Revolution,  July  1835;  Bacon,  July  1837;  Sir  William  Temple, 
October  1838;  Gladstone  on  Church  and  State,  April  1839;  CUve,  January  1840; 
Ranke's  History  of  the  Popes,  October  1840;  Comic  Dramatists,  January  1841; 
Lord  Holland,  July  1841;  Warren  Hastings,  October  1841;  Frederick  the  Great, 
April  1842;  Madame  D'Arblay,  January  1843;  Addison,  July  1843;  Lord 
Chatham  (2nd  art.),  October  1844. 

1848  New  edition  of  the  Lays  of  Ancient  Rome,  including  two  new  poems,  "Ivry"  and 

"The  Armada." 
:The  History  of  England,  vols,  i  and  ii. 

1849  Inaugural  Address  (Glasgow). 

1855    The  History  of  England,  vols,  iii  and  iv. 

The  following  were  published  in  book  form  for  the  first  time  after  Lord  Macaulay's 


i860    Miscellaneous  Writings,  two  volumes. 

These  volumes  include  the  following  further  essays,  which  originally  appeared 
in  the  Edinburgh  Review  under  the  following  dates:  Dryden,  January  1828; 
History,  May  1828;  Mill  on  Government,  March  1829;  Westminster  Reviewer's 
Defence  of  Mill,  June  1829;  Utilitarian  Theory  of  Govermnent,  October  1829; 
Sadler's  Law  of  Population,  July  1830;  Sadler's  Refutation  Refuted,  January 
1831;  Mirabeau,  July  1832;  Barere,  April  1844. 

1861    The  History  of  England,  vol.  v,  edited  by  Lady  Trevelyan. 

The  first  edition  of  the  Complete  Works  of  Lord  Macaulay  was  published  under  the 
editorship  of  Lady  Trevelyan,  in  eight  volumes,  in  1866. 




Introduction      .  .  ,  i 

Britain  under  the  Romans  .  3 
Britain  under  the  Saxons  .  3 
Effect  of  the  Conversion  of  the 

Saxons  to  Christianity         .  5 

Danish  Invasions  .  .  7 

The  Normans        ...  8 

The  Norman  Conquest  and  its 

Effects      ....        10 
Effects  of  the  Separation  of 

England  and  Normandy      .        1 1 
Amalgamation  of  Races  .        12 

Conquests  of  the  English  on 

the  Continent    .  .  .14 

Wars  of  the  Roses  .  .        16 

Extinction  of  Villenage  .        16 

Beneficial    Operation    of    the 

Roman  Catholic  Religion    .        17 
The    Nature    of    the    ancient 
EngUsh  Government  often 
misrepresented,  and  why     .        19 
Description    of    the    limited 
Monarchies    of   the    Middle 
Ages         ....        21 
Prerogatives    of   the    ancient 

English  Kings,  how  limited       22 
The   Limitations  not  always 

strictly  observed,  and  why       22 
Resistance  an  ordinary  Check 
on  Tyranny  in  the  Middle 
Ages         ....        26 
Peculiar  Character  of  the  Eng- 
lish Aristocracy  .  .       28 
The      Government      of      the 

Tudors     ....       30 
The    limited    Monarchies    of 
the  Middle  Ages  generally 
turned  into  absolute  Mon- 
archies, and  why       .  .        32 
The  English  Monarchy  a  sin- 
gular Exception,  and  why  .        32 
The     Reformation     and     its 

Effects     •  •  .  •       33 

Origin  of  the  Church  of  Eng- 
land ....        38 
Her  peculiar  Character  .  .        39 
The    Relation   in   which   she 
stood  to  the  Crown     .  .       41 

*A2  34 


The  Puritans         ...        44 
Their  Republican  Spirit  .       45 

No  systematic  Parliamentary 
Opposition    offered    to   the 
Government   of   Elizabeth, 
and  why  ....        45 
The  Question  of   the   Mono- 
polies       ....        47 
Scotland  and  Ireland  become 
Parts  of  the  same  Empire 
with  England    ...        48 
Diminution  of  the  Importance 
of  England  after  the  Acces- 
sion of  James  the  First         .        52 
The  Doctrine  of  Divine  Right       53 
The  Separation  between  the 
Church    and    the    Puritans 
becomes  wider  .  .  .56 

Accession    and    Character   of 

Charles  the  First         .  .     62 

Tactics  of  the  Opposition  in 

the  House  of  Commons        .      63 
Petition  of  Right  .  .        64 

The  Petition  of  Right  violated  65 
Character     and     Designs     of 

Wentworth        ...       65 
Character  of  Laud  .  .        66 

The  Star  Chamber  and  High 

Commission       ...        67 
Shipmoney  ...        68 

Resistance  to  the  Liturgy  in 

Scotland  ....        69 
A  Parliament  called  and  dis- 
solved     ....       71 
The  Long  Parliament     .  .       73 

The  first  Appearance  of  the 

two  great  English  Parties    .        74 
The  Irish  Rebelhon        .  .        79 

The  Remonstrance         .  .        80 

The  Impeachment  of  the  Five 

Members  .  .  .81 

Departure    of    Charles    from 

London    ....        82 
Commencement   of   the   Civil 

War  ....       85 

Successes  of  the  Royalists  .  87 
Rise  of  the  Independents  .  87 
Oliver  Cromwell   .  .  .88 

The  Self-denying  Ordinance  .  89 
Victory  of  the  Parliament       .       89 





Domination  and  Character  of 
the  Army  ...        90 

Risings  against  the  Military 
Government  suppressed      .        92 

The    Proceeding   against    the 

King         ....        93 

His  Execution       ...        96 

Subjugation  of  Ireland  and 
Scotland  ....        97 

Expulsion  of  the  Long  Parlia- 
ment        .  .  .  .98 

The  Protectorate  of  Oliver      .      10 1 

Oliver  succeeded  by  Richard  .      105 

Fall  of  Richard  and  Revival  of 
the  Long  Parliament  .      107 

Second  Expulsion  of  the  Long 
Parliament        .  .  .      108 

Monk  and  the  Army  of  Scot- 
land march  into  England     .      109 

Monk  declares  for  a  free 
Parliament        .  .  .111 

General  Election  of  1660  .      iii 

The  Restoration   .  .  .112 


The   Conduct   of    those   who 
restored      the      House      of 
Stuart  unjustly  censured     .      113 
Abolition  of  the  Tenures  by 

Knight  Service  .  .      115 

Disbanding  of  the  Army  .      115 

Disputes  between  the  Round- 
heads    and     Cavaliers    re- 
newed      .  .  .  .116 
Religious  Dissension      .  .      118 
Unpopularity  of  the  Puritans     120 
Character     of     Charles     th« 

Second     ....      126 
Characters    of    the    Duke    of 

York  and  Earl  of  Clarendon     129 
General  Election  of  1 66 1  .      131 

Violence  of   the  Cavaliers  in 

the  new  Parliament    .  .132 

Persecution  of  the  Puritans     .      132 
Zeal  of  the  Church  for  heredit- 
ary Monarchy   .  .  -133 
Change  in  the  Morals  of  the 

Comnumity       .  .  .134 

Profligacy  of  the  Politicians  of 

that  Age  ....      136 
State  of  Scotland  .  .      138 

State  of  Ireland    .  .  .      140 

The  Government  becomes  un- 

popuJar  in  England    .  .      141 

War  with  the  Dutch       .  .     143 

Opposition  in   the   House   of 

Commons  .  .  .      145 

Fall  of  Clarendon  .  .146 

State  of  Etu-opean  Politics 
and  Ascendency  of  France 

Character  of  Louis  the  Four 

The  Triple  Alliance 

The  Country  Party 

Connection  between  Charles 
the  Second  and  France 

Views  of  Lewis  with  respect  to 
England  . 

Treaty  of  Dover    . 

Nature  of  the  English  Cabinet 

The  Cabal    . 

Shutting  of  the  Exchequer 

War  with  the  United  Pro- 
vinces and  their  extreme 
Danger     . 

William  Prince  of  Orange 

Meeting  of  the  Parliament 

Declaration  of  Indulgence 

It  is  cancelled,  and  the  Test 
Act  passed 

The  Cabal  dissolved 

Peace  with  the  United  Pro- 

Administration  of  Danby 

Embarrassing  Situation  of  the 
Country  Party  . 

Dealings  of  that  Party  with 
the  French  Embassy 

Peace  of  Nimeguen;  violent 
Discontents  in  England 

Fall  of  Danby ;  the  Popish  Plot 

First  General  Election  of  1679 

Violence  of  the  new  House  of 

Temple's  Plan  of  Government 

Character  of  Halifax    .  . 

Character  of  Sunderland 

Prorogation  of  the  Pcirlia- 
ment ;  Habeas  Corpus  Act  . 

Second  General  Election  of 
1679;  Popularity  of  Mon- 
mouth     .... 

La^vrence  Hyde    . 

Sidney  Godolphin 

Violence  of  Factions  on  the 
Subject  of  the  Exclusion 
BUI  .  .  .  . 

Names  of  Whig  and  Tory 

Meeting  of  Parliament;  the 
Exclusion  Bill  passes  the 

Exclusion  Bill  rejected  by  the 
Lords;  Execution  of  Staf- 
ford .... 

General  Election  ofi68i 

Parliament  held  at  Oxford  and 
dissolved ;  Tory  Reaction    . 

Persecution  of  the  Whigs 




















The  Charter  of  the  City  confis- 
cated; Whig  Conspiracies    . 

Detection  of  the  Whig  Con- 
spiracies; Severity  of  the 

Seizure  of  Charters 

Influence  of  the  Duke  of  York 

He  is  opposed  by  Halifax 

Lord  Keeper  Guildford 

PoUcy  of  Lewis 

State  of  Factions  in  the  Court 
of  Charles  at  the  Time  of  his 
Death      .... 






.        286 


Inns    . 

.       288 

The  Post  Office      . 

.       290 

The  Newspapers   . 



The  Newsletters    . 

•        293 


The  Observator     . 

.        294 


Scarcity  of  Books  in 




■      295 


Female  Education 

.      296 




Great  Change  in  the  State  of 

England  since  1685     . 


Population  of  England  in  1685 


The    Increase    of    Population 

greater  in  the  North  than  in 

the  South 


Revenue  in  1685  . 


Military  System    . 


The  Navy    .... 


The  Ordnance 


Noneffective  Charge 


Charge  of  Civil  Government    . 


Great  Gains  of  Courtiers  and 



State  of  Agriculture 


Mineral  Wealth  of  the  Country 


Increase  of  Rent;  the  Country 



The  Clergy  .... 


The  Yeomanry 


Growth  of  the  Towns;  Bristol 


Norwich       .... 


Other  County  Towns 




Leeds           .... 


Sheffield      .... 




Liverpool     .... 


Watering  places :  Cheltenham, 

Brighton,  Buxton 


Tunbridge  Wells  . 




London        .... 


The  City       .... 


The  Fashionable  Part  of  the 

Capital     .... 


PoHce  of  London  . 


The  Lighting  of  London 


White  Friars 


The  Court    .... 


The  Coffeehouses 


Difficulty  of  Travelling 


Badness  of  the  Roads     . 


Stage  Coaches 


Literary       Attainments       of 

Gentlemen         .  .  .      297 

Influence  of  French  Literature     298 
Immorality     of     the     Polite 

Listerature  of  England  .  299 
State  of  Science  in  England  .  304 
State  of  the  Fine  Arts     .  .      309 

State  of  the  Common  People; 

Agricultural  Wages    .  .      311 

Wages  of  Manufacturers  .      313 

Labour   of   Children   in    Fac- 
tories       ....      315 
Wages  of  different  Classes  of 

Artisans  .  .  .  -      315 

Number  of  Paupers        .  .      316 

Benefits  derived  by  the  Com- 
mon People  from  the  Pro- 
gress of  Civilisation  .  .  317 
Delusion  which  leads  Men  to 
overrate  the  Happiness  of 
preceding  Generations          .      320 


Death  of  Charles  the  Second    .      321 
Suspicions  of  Poison       .  .      331 

Speech  of  James  the  Second  to 

the  Privy  Council       .  .      332 

James  proclaimed  .  .      333 

State  of  the  Administration    .      334 
New  Arrangements         .  .      336 

Sir  George  Jeffreys         .  .     337 

The  Revenue  collected  with- 
out an  Act  of  Parliament     .      341 
A  Parliament  called       .  .     342 

Transactions  between  James 

and  the  French  King  .      342 

Churchill  sent  Ambassador  to 

France ;  his  Historj'    .  .      345 

Feelings    of    the    Continental 
Government  towards  Eng- 
land ....     348 
Policy  of  the  Court  of  Rome    .      349 
Struggle     in     the     Mind     of 
James;  Fluctuations  of  his 
Pohcy      ....     352 
Public     Celebration     of     the 
Roman  CathoUc  Rites  in  the 
Palace      ....      354 
His  Coronation      .  .  •      355 



Enthusiasm  of  the  Tories'  Ad- 
dresses    ....     357 
The  Elections        .  .  -358 

Proceedings  against  Oates       .      362 
Proceedings   against   Danger- 
field  .  .  .  .366 
Proceedings  against  Baxter    .      368 
Meeting  of  the  Parliament  of 

Scotland  .  .  -371 

Feeling  of  James  towards  the 

Puritans  ....      372 
Cruel  Treatment  of  the  Scotch 

Covenanters      .  .  .     374 

Feeling  of  James  towards  the 

Quakers   ....      377 
William  Penn        .  .  .      379 

Peculiar  Favour  shown  to 
Roman  Catholics  and 
Quakers  ....  382 
Meeting  of  the  English  Parlia- 
ment ;  Trevor  chosen 
Speaker  ....  384 
Character  of  Seymour    .  .      384 

The  King's  Speech  to  the  Par- 
liament   ....      386 
Debate     in     the     Conomons; 

Speech  of  Seymour     .  .      386 

The  Revenue  voted        .  .      387 

Proceedings  of  the  Commons 

concerning  Religion   .  .      388 

Additional  Taxes  voted;   Sir 

Dudley  North    .  .  -389 

Proceedings  of  the  Lords         .     391 
Bill  for  reversing  the  Attain- 
der of  Stafford  .  .  .      392 


Whig  Refugees  on  the  Con- 
tinent      ....  393 
Their  Correspondents  in  Eng- 
land         ....  393 
Characters    of    the    Leading 

Refugees ;  Ayloffe       .          .  394 

Wade :  Goodenough        .          .  395 

Rumbold     ....  396 

Lord  Grey    ....  396 

Monmouth  ....  397 

Ferguson     ....  398 
Scotch     Refugees:     Earl     of 

Argyle      ....  402 

Sir  Patrick  Hume            .          .  405 
Sir  John  Cochrane ;  Fletcher  of 

Saltoun    .  .  .  .405 

Unreasonable  Conduct  of  the 

Scotch  Refugees          .          .  406 
Arrangements  for  an  Attempt 

on  England  and  Scotland    .  407 

John  Locke            .          .          .  409 

Preparations  made  by  the 
Government  for  the  Defence 
of  Scotland 

Conversation  of  James  with 
the  Dutch  Ambassadors 

Ineffectual  Attempts  of  the 
Prince  of  Orange  and  of  the 
States  General  to  prevent 
Argyle  from  sailing     . 

Departure  of  Argyle  from  Hol- 
land .... 

He  lands  in  Scotland 

His  Disputes  with  his  Fol- 
lowers      .... 

Temper  of  the  Scotch  Nation 

Argyle's  Forces  dispersed 

Argyle  a  Prisoner 

His  Execution 

Execution  of  Rumbold  . 

Death  of  Ayloffe  . 

Devastation  of  Argyleshire ; 
ineffectual  Attempts  to 
prevent  Monmouth  from 
leaving  Holland 

His  Arrival  at  Lyme 

His  Declaration    . 

His  Popularity  in  the  West  of 
England  . 

Encounter  of  the  Rebels  with 
the  Militia  at  Bridport 

Encounter  of  the  Rebels  with 
the  Militia  at  Axminster 

News  of  the  Rebellion  carried 
to  London 

Loyalty  of  the  Parliament 

Reception  of  Monmouth  at 
Taunton  . 

He  takes  the  Title  of  King 

His  Reception  at  Bridgewater 

Preparations  of  the  Govern- 
ment to  oppose  him    . 

His  Design  on  Bristol     . 

He  relinquishes  that  Design 

Skirmish  at  Philip's  Norton 

Despondency  of  Monmouth 

He  returns  to  Bridgewater 

The  Royal  Army  encamps  at 

Battle  of  Sedgemoor 

Pursuit  of  the  Rebels 

Military  Executions ;  Flight  of 

His  Capture  .  .    ' 

His  Letter  to  the  King  . 

He  is  carried  to  London 

His  Interview  with  the  King 

His  Execution 

His  Memory  cherished  by  the 
Common  People 


















Cruelties  of  the  Soldiers  in  the 
West;  Kirke 

Jeffreys  sets  out  on  the  Wes- 
tern Circuit 

Trial  of  Alice  Lisle 

The  Bloody  Assizes 

Abraham  Holmes 

Christopher  Battiscombe 

The  Hewlings 

Punishment  of  Tutchin 

Rebels  transported 

Confiscation  and  Extortion     . 

Rapacity  of  the  Queen  and  of 
her  Ladies 

Cases  of  Grey,  Cochrane, 
Storey,  Wade,  Goodenough, 
and  Ferguson 

Jeffreys  made  Lord  Chancellor 

Trial  and  Execution  of  Cor- 
nish .... 

Trials  and  Executions  of  Fern- 
ley  and  Elizabeth  Gaunt 

Trial  and  Execution  of  Bate- 
man  .... 

Cruel  Persecution  of  the  Pro- 
testant Dissenters 


The  Power  of  James  at  the 
Height  in  the  Autumn  of 
1685         .... 

His  Foreign  Policy 

His  Plans  of  Domestic  Govern- 
ment ;  the  Habeas  Corpus  Act 

The  Standing  Army 

Designs  in  favour  of  the 
Roman  Catholic  Religion    . 

Violation  of  the  Test  Act 

Disgrace  of  Halifax;  General 

Persecution  of  the  French 

Effect  of  that  Persecution  in 
England;  Meeting  of  Parlia- 
ment        .... 

Speech  of  the  King;  an  Oppo- 
sition formed  in  the  House 
of  Commons 

Sentiments  of  Foreign  Govern- 
ments      .... 

Conunittee  of  the  Commons 
on  the  King's  Speech 

Defeat  of  the  Government 

Second  Defeat  of  the  Govern- 
ment ;  the  King  reprimands 
the  Commons    . 

Coke  committed  by  the  Com- 
mons for  Disrespect  to  the 
King         .... 

Opposition  to  the  Government 
474  in  the  Lords;   the  Earl  of 

Devonshire        .  .  .524 

478  The  Bishop  of  London    .  .525 

479  Viscount  Mordaunt        .  .526 
483       Prorogation           .          .  .      527 

485  Trials  of  Lord  Gerard  and  of 

486  Hampden  .  .  .      528 

486  Trial  of  Delamere  .  .      529 

487  Effect  of  his  Acquittal    .  .      531 

488  Parties  in  the  Court;  Feeling 

489  of  the  Protestant  Tories  .  532 
Publication  of  Papers  found  in 

490  the  Strong  Box  of  Charles 

the  Second         .  .  -534 

Feeling    of    the    respectable 
495  Roman  Catholics        .  .      535 

495  Cabal      of     violent      Roman 

Catholics :  Castelmaine         .      536 

496  Jermyn;  White;  Tyrconnel  .  537 
Feeling    of    the    Ministers    of 

497  Foreign  Governments  .  539 
The  Pope  and  the  Order  of 

499  Jesus     opposed     to     each 
other        ....      541 

500  The  Order  of  Jesus  .  .  541 
Father  Petre  .  .  .  546 
The      King's      Temper      and 

Opinions  .  .  -547 

The  King  encouraged  in  his 

Errors  by  Sunderland  .      548 

502  Perfidy    of    Jeffreys;    Godol- 

503  phin ;  the  Queen  .  .  551 
Amours  of  the  King;  Cathar- 

503  ineSedley  .  .  -552 

504  Intrigues     of     Rochester     in 

favoiu:  of  Catharine  Sedley     554 

505  Decline  of  Rochester's  Influ- 

509  ence  ....  556 
Castelmaine  sent  to  Rome       .      558 

510  The  Huguenots  ill  treated  by 

James       .  .  .  -559 

511  The  Dispensing  Power  .  .  561 
Dismission       of       refractory 

Judges     ....      562 

514  Case  of  Sir  Edward  Hales  .  563 
Roman   Catholics   authorised 

to  hold  Ecclesiastical  Bene- 

515  fices;  Sclater;  Walker  .  565 
The  Deanery  of  Christchurch 

516  given  to  a  Roman  Catholic  566 
Disposal  of  Bishoprics    .  .      567 

518        Resolution  of  James  to  use  his 
520  Ecclesiastical       Supremacy 

against  the  Chinrch     .  .      567 

His  Difficulties      .  .  .      566 

522  He   creates    a   new   Court   of 

High  Commission       .  .     571 

Proceedings       against        the 

523  Bishop  of  London       .  .      573 



Discontent    excited    by    the 
public   Display   of    Roman 
Catholic    Rites    and    Vest- 
ments      ....      574 
Riots  .  .  •  -576 

A  Camp  formed  at  Homislow        577 
Samuel  Johnson   .  .  .      578 

HughSpeke  .  .  -579 

Proceedings  against  Johnson        580 
Zeal  of  the  Anglican  Clergy 
against  Popery;  Controver- 
sial Writings      .  .  .      582 
The  Roman  Catholic  Divines 

overmatched     .  .  -583 

State  of  Scotland  .  .      584 

Queensberry;  Perth;  Melfort        585 
Their  Apostasy     .  .  .     586 

Favour  shown  to  the  Roman 
CathoUc   Religion  in  Scot- 
land; Riots  at  Edinburgh  587 
Anger  of  the  King           .          .588 
His  Plans  concerning  Scotland     589 
Deputations  of  Scotch  Privy 

Coim.cillors  sent  to  London     589 
Their    Negotations    with    the 
King;  Meeting  of  the  Scotch 
Estates     .  .  .  .590 

They  prove  refractory   .  .     591 

They  are  adjourned;  arbitrarj^ 
System  of  Government  in 
Scotland  ....     594 
Ireland         ....     596 

State  of  the  Law  on  the  Sub- 
ject of  ReUgion  .  .      596 

Hostility  of  Races;  the  abori- 
ginal Peasantry  .  -597 

The  aboriginal  Aristocracy      .      598 

State  of  the  English  Colony     .      599 

Course  which  James  ought  to 
have  followed    .  .  .      6or 

His  Errors   ....      603 

Clarendon  arrives  in  Ireland  as 
Lord  Lieutenant ;  his  Morti- 
fications ....      605 

Panic  among  the  Colonists      .     606 

Arrival  of  Tyrconnel  at  Dub- 
lin as  General ;  his  Partiahty 
and  Violence     .  .  .      608 

He  is  bent  on  the  Repeal  of 
the  Act  of  Settlement;  he 
returns  to  England     .  .      610 

The  King  displeased  with 
Clarendon  .  .  .610 

Rochester  attacked  by  the 
Jesuitical  Cabal  .  .      611 

Attempts  of  James  to  convert 
Rochester  .  .  .613 

Dismission  of  Rochester  .     617 

Dismission  of  Clarendon;  Tyr- 
connel Lord  Deputy  .         .     618 

Dismay  of  the  Enghsh  Colon- 
ists in  Ireland    .  .  .     620 

Effect    of    the    Fall    of    the 
Hydes      ....     621 


I  PURPOSE  to  write  the  history  of  England  from  the  acces- 
sion of  King  James  the  Second  down  to  a  time  which  is 
within  the  memory  of  men  still  living.  I  shall  recount  the 
errors  which,  in  a  few  months,  alienated  a  loyal  gentry  and 
priesthood  from  the  House  of  Stuart.  I  shall  trace  the  course 
of  that  revolution  which  terminated  the  long  struggle  between 
our  sovereigns  and  their  parliaments,  and  bound  up  together 
the  rights  of  the  people  and  the  title  of  the  reigning  dynasty. 
I  shall  relate  how  the  new  settlement  was,  during  many 
troubled  years,  successfully  defended  against  foreign  and 
domestic  enemies  ;  how,  under  that  settlement,  the  authority 
of  law  and  the  security  of  property  were  found  to  be  com- 
patible with  a  liberty  of  discussion  and  of  individual  action 
never  before  known ;  how,  from  the  auspicious  union  of  order 
and  freedom,  sprang  a  prosperity  of  which  the  annals  of  human 
affairs  had  furnished  no  example;  how  our  country,  from  a 
state  of  ignominious  vassalage,  rapidly  rose  to  the  place  of 
umpire  among  European  powers ;  how  her  opulence  and  her 
martial  glory  grew  together;  how,  by  wise  and  resolute  good 
faith,  was  gradually  established  a  public  credit  fruitful  of 
marvels  which  to  the  statesmen  of  any  former  age  would  have 
seemed  incredible ;  how  a  gigantic  commerce  gave  birth  to  a 
maritime  power,  compared  with  which  every  other  maritime 
power,  ancient  or  modern,  sinks  into  insignificance ;  how 
Scotland,  after  ages  of  enmity,  was  at  length  united  to 
England,  not  merely  by  legal  bonds,  but  by  indissoluble  ties 
of  interest  and  affection ;  how,  in  America,  the  British  colonies 
rapidly  became  far  mightier  and  wealthier  than  the  realms 
which  Cortes  and  Pizarro  had  added  to  the  dominions  of 
Charles  the  Fifth ;  how,  in  Asia,  British  adventurers  founded 


an  empire  not  less  splendid  and  more  durable  than  that  of 

Nor  will  it  be  less  my  duty  faithfully  to  record  disasters 
mingled  with  triumphs,  and  great  national  crimes  and  follies 
far  more  humiliating  than  any  disaster.  It  will  be  seen  that 
even  what  we  justly  account  our  chief  blessings  were  not 
without  alloy.  It  will  be  seen  that  the  system  which  effect- 
ually secured  our  liberties  against  the  encroachments  of  kingly 
power  gave  birth  to  a  new  class  of  abuses  from  which  absolute 
monarchies  are  exempt.  It  will  be  seen  that,  in  consequence 
partly  of  unwise  interference,  and  partly  of  unwise  neglect,  the 
increase  of  wealth  and  the  extension  of  trade  produced,  to- 
gether with  immense  good,  some  evils  from  which  poor  and 
rude  societies  are  free.  It  will  be  seen  how,  in  two  important 
dependencies  of  the  crown,  wrong  was  followed  by  just  retri- 
bution ;  how  imprudence  and  obstinacy  broke  the  ties  which 
bound  the  North  American  colonies  to  the  parent  state ;  how 
Ireland,  cursed  by  the  domination  of  race  over  race,  and  of 
religion  over  religion,  remained  indeed  a  member  of  the 
empire,  but  a  withered  and  distorted  member,  adding  no 
strength  to  the  body  politic,  and  reproachfully  pointed  at  by 
all  who  feared  or  envied  the  greatness  of  England. 

Yet,  unless  I  greatly  deceive  myself,  the  general  effect  of 
this  chequered  narrative  will  be  to  excite  thankfulness  in  all 
religious  minds,  and  hope  in  the  breasts  of  all  patriots.  For 
the  history  of  our  country  during  the  last  hundred  and  sixty 
years  is  eminently  the  history  of  physical,  of  moral,  and  of 
intellectual  improvement.  Those  who  compare  the  age  on 
which  their  lot  has  fallen  with  a  golden  age  which  exists  only 
in  their  imagination  may  talk  of  degeneracy  and  decay  :  but  no 
man  who  is  correctly  informed  as  to  the  past  will  be  disposed 
to  take  a  morose  or  desponding  view  of  the  present. 

I  should  very  imperfectly  execute  the  task  which  I  have 
undertaken  if  I  were  merely  to  treat  of  battles  and  sieges,  of 
the  rise  and  fall  of  administrations,  of  intrigues  in  the  palace, 
and  of  debates  in  the  parliament.  It  will  be  my  endeavour  to 
relate  the  history  of  the  people  as  well  as  the  history  of  the 
government,  to  trace  the  progress  of  useful  and  ornamental 
arts,  to  describe  the  rise  of  religious  sects  and  the  changes  of 
literary  taste,  to  portray  the  manners  of  successive  generations, 
and  not  to  pass  by  with  neglect  even  ^he  revolutions  which 
have  taken  place  in  dress,  furniture,  repasts,  and  public 
amusements.  I  shall  cheerfully  bear  the  reproach  of  having 
descended  below  the  dignity  of  history,  if  I  can  succeed  in 


placing  before  the  English  of  the  nineteenth  century  a  true 
picture  of  the  life  of  their  ancestors. 

The  events  which  I  propose  to  relate  form  only  a  single  act 
of  a  great  and  eventful  drama  extending  through  ages,  and 
must  be  very  imperfectly  understood  unless  the  plot  of  the 
preceding  acts  be  well  known.  I  shall  therefore  introduce  my 
narrative  by  a  slight  sketch  of  the  history  of  our  country  from 
the  earliest  times.  I  shall  pass  very  rapidly  over  many 
centuries  :  but  I  shall  dwell  at  some  length  on  the  vicissitudes 
of  that  contest  which  the  administration  of  King  James  the 
Second  brought  to  a  decisive  crisis.* 

Nothing  in  the  early  existence  of  Britain  indicated  the  great- 
ness which  she  was  destined  to  attain.  Her  inhabitants,  when 
first  they  became  known  to  the  Tyrian  mariners,  were  little 
superior  to  the  natives  of  the  Sandwich  Islands.  She  was 
subjugated  by  the  Roman  arms  ;  but  she  received  only  a  faint 
tincture  of  Roman  arts  and  letters.  Of  the  western  provinces 
which  obeyed  the  Caesars  she  was  the  last  that  was  conquered, 
and  the  first  that  was  flung  away.  No  magnificent  remains  of 
Latian  porches  and  aqueducts  are  to  be  found  in  Britain.  No 
writer  of  British  birth  is  reckoned  among  the  masters  of 
Latian  poetry  and  eloquence.  It  is  not  probable  that  the 
islanders  were  at  any  time  generally  familiar  with  the  tongue 
of  their  Italian  rulers.  From  the  Atlantic  to  the  vicinity  of 
the  Rhine  the  Latin  has,  during  many  centuries,  been  pre- 
dominant. It  drove  out  the  Celtic  ;  it  was  not  driven  out  by 
the  Teutonic  ;  and  it  is  at  this  day  the  basis  of  the  French, 
Spanish,  and  Portuguese  languages.  In  our  island  the  Latin 
appears  never  to  have  superseded  the  old  Gaelic  speech,  and 
could  not  stand  its  ground  against  the  German. 

The  scanty  and  superficial  civilisation  which  the  Britons 
had  derived  from  their  southern  masters  was  effaced  by  the 
calamities  of  the  fifth  century.  In  the  continental  kingdoms 
into  which  the  Roman  empire  was  then  dissolved,  the  con- 
querors learned  much  from  the  conquered  race.  In  Britain 
the  conquered  race  became  as  barbarous  as  the  conquerors. 

All   the   chiefs   who   founded   Teutonic   dynasties    in    the 

*  In  this,  and  in  the  next  chapter,  I  have  very  seldom  thought  it 
necessary  to  cite  authorities  :  for,  in  these  chapters,  I  have  not  detailed 
events  minutely,  or  used  recondite  materials ;  and  the  facts  which  I  mention 
are  for  the  most  part  such  that  a  person  tolerably  well  read  in  English 
history,  if  not  already  apprised  of  them,  will  at  least  know  where  to  look 
for  evidence  of  them.  In  the  subsequent  chapters  I  shall  carefully 
indicate  the  sources  of  my  information. 


continental  provinces  of  the  Roman  empire,  Alaric,  Theodoric, 
Clovis,  Alboin,  were  zealous  Christians.  •  The  followers  of 
Ida  and  Cerdic,  on  the  other  hand,  brought  to  their  settlements 
in  Britain  all  the  superstitions  of  the  Elbe.  While  the  German 
princes  who  reigned  at  Paris,  Toledo,  Aries,  and  Ravenna 
listened  with  reverence  to  the  instructions  of  bishops,  adored 
the  relics  of  martyrs,  and  took  part  eagerly  in  disputes  touching 
the  Nicene  theology,  the  rulers  of  Wessex  and  Mercia  were 
still  performing  savage  rites  in  the  temples  of  Thor  and 

The  continental  kingdoms  which  had  risen  on  the  ruins  of 
the  Western  Empire  kept  up  some  intercourse  with  those 
eastern  provinces  where  the  ancient  civilisation,  though  slowly 
fading  away  under  the  influence  of  misgovernment,  might  still 
astonish  and  instruct  barbarians,  where  the  court  still  exhibited 
the  splendour  of  Diocletian  and  Constantine,  where  the  public 
buildings  were  still  adorned  with  the  sculptures  of  Polycletus 
and  the  paintings  of  Apelles,  and  where  laborious  pedants, 
themselves  destitute  of  taste,  sense,  and  spirit,  could  still  read 
and  interpret  the  masterpieces  of  Sophocles,  of  Demosthenes, 
and  of  Plato.  From  this  communion  Britain  was  cut  oif.  Her 
shores  were,  to  the  polished  race  which  dwelt  by  the  Bosporus, 
objects  of  a  mysterious  horror,  such  as  that  with  which 
the  lonians  of  the  age  of  Homer  had  regarded  the  Straits  of 
Scylla  and  the  city  of  the  Lsestrygonian  cannibals.  There  was 
one  province  of  our  island  in  which,  as  Procopius  had  been 
told,  the  ground  was  covered  with  serpents,  and  the  air  was 
such  that  no  man  could  inhale  it  and  live.  To  this  desolate 
region  the  spirits  of  the  departed  were  ferried  over  from  the 
land  of  the  Franks  at  midnight.  A  strange  race  of  fishermen 
performed  the  ghastly  office.  The  speech  of  the  dead  was 
distinctly  heard  by  the  boatmen :  their  weight  made  the  keel 
sink  deep  in  the  water;  but  their  forms  were  invisible  to 
mortal  eye.  Such  were  the  marvels  which  an  able  historian, 
the  contemporary  of  Belisarius,  of  Simplicius,  and  of  Tribonian, 
gravely  related  in  the  rich  and  polite  Constantinople,  touching 
the  country  in  which  the  founder  of  Constantinople  had 
assumed  the  imperial  purple.  Concerning  all  the  other 
provinces  of  the  Western  Empire  we  have  continuous  informa- 
tion. It  is  only  in  Britain  that  an  age  of  fable  completely 
separates  two  ages  of  truth.  Odoacer  and  Totila,  Euric  and 
Thrasimund,  Clovis,  Fredegunda,  and  Brunechild,  are  historical 
men  and  women.  But  Hengist  and  Horsa,  Vortigern  and 
Rowena,   Arthur  and  Mordred  are  mythical  persons,  whose 


very  existence  may  be  questioned,  and  whose  adventures  must 
be  classed  with  those  of  Hercules  and  Romulus. 

At  length  the  darkness  begins  to  break  ;  and  the  country 
which  had  been  lost  to  view  as  Britain  reappears  as  England. 
The  conversion  of  the  Saxon  colonists  to  Christianity  was  the 
first  of  a  long  series  of  salutary  revolutions.  It  is  true  that  the 
Church  had  been  deeply  corrupted  both  by  that  superstition 
and  by  that  philosophy  against  which  she  had  long  contended,- 
and  over  which  she  had  at  last  triumphed.  She  had  given  a 
too  easy  admission  to  doctrines  borrowed  from  the  ancient 
schools,  and  to  rites  borrowed  from  the  ancient  temples. 
Roman  policy  and  Gothic  ignorance,  Grecian  ingenuity  and 
Syrian  asceticism,  had  contributed  to  deprave  her.  Yet  she 
retained  enough  of  the  sublime  theology  and  benevolent 
morality  of  her  earlier  days  to  elevate  many  intellects,  and 
to  purify  many  hearts.  Some  things  also  which  at  a  later 
period  were  justly  regarded  as  among  her  chief  blemishes  were, 
in  the  seventh  century,  and  long  afterwards,  among  her  chief 
merits.  That  the  sacerdotal  order  should  encroach  on  the 
functions  of  the  civil  magistrate  would,  in  our  time,  be  a  great 
evil.  But  that  which  in  an  age  of  good  government  is  an  evil 
may,  in  an  age  of  grossly  bad  government,  be  a  blessing.  It 
is  better  that  mankind  should  be  governed  by  wise  laws  well 
administered,  and  by  an  enlightened  public  opinion,  than  by 
priestcraft :  but  it  is  better  that  men  should  be  governed  by 
priestcraft  than  by  brute  violence,  by  such  a  prelate  as  Dunstan 
than  by  such  a  warrior  as  Penda.  A  society  sunk  in  ignorance, 
and  ruled  by  mere  physical  force,  has  great  reason  to  rejoice 
when  a  class,  of  which  the  influence  is  intellectual  and  moral, 
rises  to  ascendency.  Such  a  class  will  doubtless  abuse  its 
power  :  but  mental  power,  even  when  abused,  is  still  a  nobler 
and  better  power  than  that  which  consists  merely  in  corporeal 
strength.  We  read  in  our  Saxon  chronicles  of  tyrants,  who, 
when  at  the  height  of  greatness,  were  smitten  with  remorse,  who 
abhorred  the  pleasure  and  dignities  which  they  had  purchased 
by  guilt,  who  abdicated  their  crowns,  and  who  sought  to  atone 
for  their  offences  by  cruel  penances  and  incessant  prayers. 
These  stories  have  drawn  forth  bitter  expressions  of  contempt 
from  some  writers  who,  while  they  boasted  of  liberality,  were  in 
truth  as  narrow-minded  as  any  monk  of  the  dark  ages,  and 
whose  habit  was  to  apply  to  all  events  in  the  history  of  the 
world  the  standard  received  in  the  Parisian  society  of  the 
eighteenth  century.  Yet  surely  a  system  which,  however 
deformed  by  superstition,  introduced   strong  moral  restraints 


into  communities  previously  governed  only  by  vigour  of  muscle 
and  by  audacity  of  spirit,  a  system  which  taught  the  fiercest 
and  mightiest  ruler  that  he  was,  like  his  meanest  bondman, 
a  responsible  being,  might  have  seemed  to  deserve  a 
more  respectful  mention  from  philosophers  and  philanthro- 

The  same  observations  will  apply  to  the  contempt  with 
which,  in  the  last  century,  it  was  fashionable  to  speak  of  the 
pilgrimages,  the  sanctuaries,  the  crusades,  and  the  monastic 
institutions  of  the  middle  ages.  In  times  when  men  were 
scarcely  ever  induced  to  travel  by  liberal  curiosity,  or  by  the 
pursuit  of  gain,  it  was  better  that  the  rude  inhabitant  of  the 
North  should  visit  Italy  and  the  East  as  a  pilgrim,  than  that  he 
should  never  see  anything  but  those  squalid  cabins  and 
uncleared  woods  amidst  which  he  was  born.  In  times  when 
life  and  when  female  honour  were  exposed  to  daily  risk  from 
tyrants  and  marauders,  it  was  better  that  the  precinct  of  a 
shrine  should  be  regarded  with  an  irrational  awe,  than  that 
there  should  be  no  refuge  inaccessible  to  cruelty  and  licen- 
tiousness. In  times  when  statesmen  were  incapable  of  forming 
extensive  political  combinations,  it  was  better  that  the  Christian 
nations  should  be  roused  and  united  for  the  recovery  of  the 
Holy  Sepulchre,  than  that  they  should,  one  by  one,  be  over- 
whelmed by  the  Mahometan  power.  Whatever  reproach  may, 
at  a  later  period,  have  been  justly  thrown  on  the  indolence  and 
luxury  of  religious  orders,  it  was  surely  good  that,  in  an  age  of 
ignorance  and  violence,  there  should  be  quiet  cloisters  and 
gardens,  in  which  the  arts  of  peace  could  be  safely  cultivated, 
in  which  gentle  and  contemplative  natures  could  find  an 
asylum,  in  which  one  brother  could  employ  himself  in  tran- 
scribing the  .^neid  of  Virgil,  and  another  in  meditating  the 
Analytics  of  Aristotle,  in  which  he  who  had  a  genius  for  art 
might  illuminate  a  martyrology  or  carve  a  crucifix,  and  in 
which  he  who  had  a  turn  for  natural  philosophy  might  make 
experiments  on  the  properties  of  plants  and  minerals.  Had  not 
such  retreats  been  scattered  here  and  there,  among  the  huts  of  a 
miserable  peasantry,  and  the  castles  of  a  ferocious  aristocracy, 
European  society  would  have  consisted  merely  of  beasts  of 
burden  and  beasts  of  prey.  The  Church  has  many  times  been 
compared  by  divines  to  the  ark  of  which  we  read  in  the  Book 
of  Genesis  :  but  never  was  the  resemblance  more  perfect  than 
during  that  evil  time  when  she  alone  rode,  amidst  darkness  and 
tempest,  on  the  deluge  beneath  which  all  the  great  works  of 
ancient  power  and  wisdom  lay  entombed,  bearing  within  her 


that   feeble  germ    from  which   a   second   and   more   gloriou* 
civilisation  was  to  spring. 

Even  the  spiritual  supremacy  arrogated  by  the  Pope  was,  in 
the  dark  ages,  productive  of  far  more  good  than  evil.  Its 
effect  was  to  unite  the  nations  of  Western  Europe  in  one  great 
commonwealth.  What  the  Olympian  chariot  course  and  the 
Pythian  oracle  were  to  all  the  Greek  cities,  from  Trebizond 
to  Marseilles,  Rome  and  her  Bishop  were  to  all  Christians  of 
the  Latin  communion,  from  Calabria  to  the  Hebrides.  Thus 
grew  up  sentiments  of  enlarged  benevolence.  Races  separated 
from  each  other  by  seas  and  mountains  acknowledged  a  fraternal 
tie  and  a  common  code  of  public  law.  Even  in  Avar,  the  cruelty 
of  the  conqueror  was  not  seldom  mitigated  by  the  recollection 
that  he  and  his  vanquished  enemies  were  all  members  of  one 
great  federation. 

Into  this  federation  our  Saxon  ancestors  were  now  admitted. 
A  regular  communication  was  opened  between  our  shores  and 
that  part  of  Europe  in  which  the  traces  of  ancient  power  and 
policy  were  yet  discernible.  Many  noble  monuments  which 
have  since  been  destroyed  or  defaced  still  retained  their 
pristine  magnificence ;  and  travellers,  to  whom  Livy  and 
Sallust  were  unintelligible,  might  gain  from  the  Roman 
aqueducts  and  temples  some  faint  notion  of  Roman  history. 
The  dome  of  Agrippa,  still  gUttering  with  bronze,  the  mau- 
soleum of  Adrian,  not  yet  deprived  of  its  columns  and  statues, 
the  Flavian  amphitheatre,  not  yet  degraded  into  a  quarry,  told 
to  the  rude  English  pilgrims  some  part  of  the  story  of  that 
great  civilised  world  which  had  passed  away.  The  islanders 
returned,  with  awe  deeply  impressed  on  their  half  opened 
minds,  and  told  the  wondering  inhabitants  of  the  hovels  of 
London  and  York  that,  near  the  grave  of  St.  Peter,  a  mighty 
race,  now  extinct,  had  piled  up  buildings  which  would  never  be 
dissolved  till  the  judgment  day.  Learning  followed  in  the 
train  of  Christianity.  The  poetry  and  eloc^uence  of  the 
Augustan  age  was  assiduously  studied  in  Mercian  and  North- 
umbrian monasteries.  The  names  of  Bede,  of  Alcuin,  and  of 
John,  surnamed  Erigena,  were  justly  celebrated  throughout 
Europe.  Such  was  the  state  of  our  country  when,  in  the  ninth 
century,  began  the  last  great  descent  of  the  northern  bar- 

During  several  generations  Denmark  and  Scandinavia  con- 
tinued to  pour  forth  innumerable  pirates,  distinguished  by 
strength,  by  valour,  by  merciless  ferocity,  and  by  hatred  of  the 
Christian  name.     No   country  suffered   so   much   from   these 


invaders  as  England.  Her  coast  lay  near  to  the  ports  whence 
they  sailed ;  nor  was  any  part  of  our  island  so  far  distant  from 
the  sea  as  to  be  secure  from  attack.  The  same  atrocities  which 
had  attended  the  victory  of  the  Saxon  over  the  Celt  were  now, 
after  the  lapse  of  ages,  suffered  by  the  Saxon  at  the  hand  of 
the  Dane.  Civilisation,  just  as  it  began  to  rise,  was  met  by 
this  blow,  and  sank  down  once  more.  Large  colonies  of 
adventurers  from  the  Baltic  established  themselves  on  the 
eastern  shores,  spread  gradually  westward,  and,  supported  by 
constant  reinforcements  from  beyond  the  sea,  aspired  to  the 
dominion  of  the  whole  realm.  The  struggle  between  the  two 
fierce  Teutonic  breeds  lasted  during  six  generations.  Each 
was  alternately  paramount.  Cruel  massacres  followed  by  cruel 
retribution,  provinces  wasted,  convents  plundered,  and  cities 
rased  to  the  ground,  make  up  the  greater  part  of  the  history  of 
those  evil  days.  At  length  the  North  ceased  to  send  forth  a 
constant  stream  of  fresh  depredators,  and  from  that  time  the 
mutual  aversion  of  the  races  began  to  subside.  Intermarriage 
became  frequent.  The  Danes  learned  the  religion  of  the 
Saxons ;  and  thus  one  cause  of  deadly  animosity  was  removed. 
The  Danish  and  Saxon  tongues,  both  dialects  of  one  wide- 
spread language,  were  blended  together.  But  the  distinction 
between  the  two  nations  was  by  no  means  effaced,  when  an 
event  took  place  which  prostrated  both,  in  common  slavery 
and  degradation,  at  the  feet  of  a  third  people. 

The  Normans  were  then  the  foremost  race  of  Christendom. 
Their  valour  and  ferocity  had  made  them  conspicuous  among 
the  rovers  whom  Scandinavia  had  sent  forth  to  ravage  Western 
Europe.  Their  sails  were  long  the  terror  of  both  coasts  of  the 
channel.  Their  arms  were  repeatedly  carried  far  into  the 
heart  of  the  Carlovingian  empire,  and  were  victorious  under 
the  walls  of  Maestricht  and  Paris.  At  length  one  of  the  feeble 
heirs  of  Charlemagne  ceded  to  the  strangers  a  fertile  province, 
watered  by  a  noble  river,  and  contiguous  to  the  sea  which  was 
their  favourite  element.  In  that  province  they  founded  a 
mighty  state,  which  gradually  extended  its  influence  over 
the  neighbouring  principalities  of  Britanny  and  Maine. 
Without  laying  aside  that  dauntless  valour  which  had  been 
the  terror  of  every  land  from  the  Elbe  to  the  Pyrenees,  the 
Normans  rapidly  acquired  all,  and  more  than  all,  the 
knowledge  and  refinement  which  they  found  in  the  country 
where  they  settled.  Their  courage  secured  their  territory 
against  foreign  invasion.  They  established  internal  order,  such 
as   had   long   been    unknown   in   the    Frank    empire.     They 


embraced  Christianity,  and  with  Christianity  they  learned  a 
great  part  of  what  the  clergy  had  to  teach.  They  abandoned 
their  native  speech,  and  adopted  the  French  tongue,  in  which 
the  Latin  was  the  predominant  element.  They  speedily 
raised  their  new  language  to  a  dignity  and  importance  which 
it  had  never  before  possessed.  They  found  it  a  barbarous 
jargon ;  they  fixed  it  in  writing ;  and  they  employed  it  in 
legislation,  in  poetry,  and  in  romance.  They  renounced  that 
brutal  intemperance  to  which  all  the  other  branches  of  the 
great  German  family  were  too  much  inclined.  The  polite 
luxury  of  the  Norman  presented  a  striking  contrast  to  the 
coarse  voracity  and  drunkenness  of  his  Saxon  and  Danish 
neighbours.  He  loved  to  display  his  magnificence,  not  in  huge 
piles  of  food  and  hogsheads  of  strong  drink,  but  in  large  and 
stately  edifices,  rich  armour,  gallant  horses,  choice  falcons, 
well  ordered  tournaments,  banquets  delicate  rather  than 
abundant,  and  wines  remarkable  rather  for  their  exquisite 
flavour  than  for  their  intoxicating  power.  That  chivalrous 
spirit,  v/hich  has  exercised  so  powerful  an  influence  on  the 
politics,  morals,  and  manners  of  all  the  European  nations,  was 
found  in  the  highest  exaltation  among  the  Norman  nobles. 
Those  nobles  were  distinguished  by  their  graceful  bearing  and 
insinuating  address.  They  were  distinguished  also  by  their 
skill  in  negotiation,  and  by  a  natural  eloquence  which  they  as- 
siduously cultivated.  It  was  the  boast  of  one  of  their  his- 
torians that  the  Norman  gentlemen  were  orators  from  the 
cradle.  But  their  chief  fame  was  derived  from  their  military 
exploits.  Every  country,  from  the  Atlantic  Ocean  to  the 
Dead  Sea,  witnessed  the  prodigies  of  their  discipline  and  valour. 
One  Norman  knight,  at  the  head  of  a  handful  of  warriors, 
scattered  the  Ceks  of  Connaught.  Another  founded  the 
monarchy  of  the  Two  Sicihes,  and  saw  the  emperors  both  of 
the  East  and  of  the  West  fly  before  his  arms.  A  third,  the 
Ulysses  of  the  first  crusade,  was  invested  by  his  fellow  soldiers 
with  the  sovereignty  of  Antioch ;  and  a  fourth,  the  Tancred 
whose  name  lives  in  the  great  poem  of  Tasso,  was  celebrated 
through  Christendom  as  the  bravest  and  most  generous  of  the 
champions  of  the  Holy  Sepulchre. 

The  vicinity  of  so  remarkable  a  people  early  began  to  pro- 
duce an  effect  on  the  public  mind  of  England.  Before  the 
Conquest,  English  princes  received  their  education  in  Nor- 
mandy. English  sees  and  English  estates  were  bestowed  on 
Normans.  The  French  of  Normandy  was  familiarly  spoken 
in  the  palace  of  Westminster.     The  court  of  Rouen  seems 


to  have  been  to  the  court  of  Edward  the  Confessor  what  the 
court  of  Versailles  long  afterwards  was  to  the  court  of  Charles 
the  Second. 

The  battle  of  Hastings,  and  the  events  which  followed  it, 
not  only  placed  a  Duke  of  Normandy  on  the  English  throne, 
but  gave  up  the  whole  population  of  England  to  the  tyranny  of 
the  Norman  race.  The  subjugation  of  a  nation  by  a  nation  has 
seldom,  even  in  Asia,  been  more  complete.  The  country  was 
portioned  out  among  the  captains  of  the  invaders.  Strong 
military  institutions,  closely  connected  with  the  institution  of 
property,  enabled  the  foreign  conquerors  to  oppress  the 
children  of  the  soil.  A  cruel  penal  code,  cruelly  enforced, 
guarded  the  privileges,  and  even  the  sports,  of  the  alien 
tyrants.  Yet  the  subject  race,  though  beaten  down  and 
trodden  under  foot,  still  made  its  sting  felt.  Some  bold  men, 
the  favourite  heroes  of  our  oldest  ballads,  betook  themselves 
to  the  woods,  and  there,  in  defiance  of  curfew  laws  and  forest 
laws,  waged  a  predatory  war  against  their  oppressors.  As- 
sassination was  an  event  of  daily  occurrence.  Many  Normans 
suddenly  disappeared  leaving  no  trace.  The  corpses  of  many 
were  found  bearing  the  marks  of  violence.  Death  by  torture 
was  denounced  against  the  murderers,  and  strict  search  was  made 
for  them,  but  generally  in  vain  ;  for  the  whole  nation  was  in 
a  conspiracy  to  screen  them.  It  was  at  length  thought 
necessary  to  lay  a  heavy  fine  on  every  Hundred  in  which  a 
person  of  French  extraction  should  be  found  slain ;  and  this 
regulation  was  followed  up  by  another  regulation,  providing 
that  every  person  who  was  found  slain  should  be  supposed  to 
be  a  Frenchman,  unless  he  were  proved  to  be  a  Saxon. 

During  the  century  and  a  half  which  followed  the  Conquest, 
there  is,  to  speak  strictly,  no  English  history.  The  French 
Kings  of  England  rose,  indeed,  to  an  eminence  which  was  the 
wonder  and  dread  of  all  neighbouring  nations.  They  con- 
quered Ireland.  They  received  the  homage  of  Scotland.  By 
their  valour,  by  their  policy,  by  their  fortunate  matrimonial 
alliances,  they  became  far  more  powerful  on  the  Continent 
than  their  liege  lords  the  Kings  of  France.  x\sia,  as  well  as 
Europe,  was  dazzled  by  the  power  and  glory  of  our  tyrants. 
Arabian  chroniclers  recorded  with  unwilling  admiration  the  fall 
of  Acre,  the  defence  of  Joppa,  and  the  victorious  march  to 
Ascalon ;  and  Arabian  mothers  long  awed  their  infants  to 
silence  with  the  name  of  the  lion  hearted  Plantagenet.  At  one 
time  it  seemed  that  the  line  of  Hugh  Capet  was  about  to  end 
as  the  Merovingian  and   Carlovingian  lines  had  ended,  and 


that  a  single  great  monarchy  would  spread  from  the  Orkneys 
to  the  Pyrenees.  So  strong  an  association  is  established  in 
most  minds  between  the  greatness  of  a  sovereign  and  the 
greatness  of  the  nation  which  he  rules,  that  almost  every 
historian  of  England  has  expatiated  with  a  sentiment  of  exul- 
tation on  the  power  and  splendour  of  her  foreign  masters,  and 
has  lamented  the  decay  of  that  power  and  splendour  as  a 
calamity  to  our  country.  This  is,  in  truth,  as  absurd  as  it 
would  be  in  a  Haytian  negro  of  our  time  to  dwell  with  national 
pride  on  the  greatness  of  Lewis  the  Fourteenth,  and  to  speak 
of  Blenheim  and  Ramilies  with  patriotic  regret  and  shame. 
The  Conqueror  and  his  descendants  to  the  fourth  generation 
were  not  Englishmen  :  most  of  them  were  born  in  France  : 
they  spent  the  greater  part  of  their  lives  in  France  :  their 
ordinary  speech  was  French  :  almost  every  high  office  in  their 
gift  was  filled  by  a  Frenchman  :  every  acquisition  which  they 
made  on  the  Continent  estranged  them  more  and  more  from 
the  population  of  our  island.  One  of  the  ablest  among  them 
indeed  attempted  to  win  the  hearts  of  his  English  subjects  by 
espousing  an  English  princess.  But,  by  many  of  his  barons, 
this  marriage  was  regarded  as  a  marriage  between  a  white 
planter  and  a  quadroon  girl  would  now  be  regarded  in  Vir- 
ginia. In  history  he  is  known  by  the  honourable  surname  of 
Beauclerc ;  but,  in  his  own  time,  his  own  countrymen  called 
him  by  a  Saxon  nickname,  in  contemptuous  allusion  to  his 
Saxon  connection. 

Had  the  Plantagenets,  as  at  one  time  seemed  likely,  suc- 
ceeded in  uniting  all  France  under  their  government,  it  is  pro- 
bable that  England  would  never  have  had  an  independent 
existence.  Her  princes,  her  lords,  her  prelates,  would  have 
been  men  differing  in  race  and  language  from  the  artisans  and 
the  tillers  of  the  earth.  The  revenues  of  her  great  proprietors 
would  have  been  spent  in  festivities  and  diversions  on  the 
banks  of  the  Seine.  The  noble  language  of  Milton  and  Burke 
would  have  remained  a  rustic  dialect,  without  a  literature,  a 
fixed  grammar,  or  a  fixed  orthography,  and  would  have  been 
contemptuously  abandoned  to  the  use  of  boors.  No  man  of 
English  extraction  would  have  risen  to  eminence,  except  by 
becoming  in  speech  and  habits  a  Frenchman. 

England  owes  her  escape  from  such  calamities  to  an  event 
which  her  historians  have  generally  represented  as  disastrous. 
Her  interest  was  so  directly  opposed  to  the  interest  of  her 
rulers  that  she  had  no  hope  but  in  their  errors  and  misfortunes. 
The  talents  and  even  the  virtues  of  her  six  first  French  Kins,s 


were  a  curse  to  her.  The  follies  and  vices  of  the  seventh  were 
her  salvation.  Had  John  inherited  the  great  qualities  of  his 
father,  of  Henry  Beauclerc,  or  of  the  Conqueror,  nay,  had  he 
even  possessed  the  martial  courage  of  Stephen  or  of  Richard, 
and  had  the  King  of  France  at  the  same  time  been  as  incapable 
as  all  the  other  successors  of  Hugh  Capet  had  been,  the  House 
of  Plantagenet  must  have  risen  to  unrivalled  ascendency  in 
Europe.  But,  just  at  this  conjuncture,  France,  for  the  first 
time  since  the  death  of  Charlemagne,  was  governed  by  a  prince 
of  great  firmness  and  ability.  On  the  other  hand  England 
which,  since  the  battle  of  Hastings,  had  been  ruled  generally 
by  wise  statesmen,  always  by  brave  soldiers,  fell  under  the 
dominion  of  a  trifler  and  a  coward.  From  that  moment  her 
])rospects  brightened,  John  was  driven  from  Normandy.  The 
Norman  nobles  were  compelled  to  make  their  election  between 
the  island  and  the  continent.  Shut  up  by  the  sea  with  the 
people  whom  they  had  hitherto  oppressed  and  despised,  they 
gradually  came  to  regard  England  as  their  country,  and  the 
English  as  their  countrymen.  The  two  races  so  long  hostile, 
soon  found  that  they  had  common  interests  and  common 
enemies.  Both  were  alike  aggrieved  by  the  tyranny  of  a  bad 
king.  Both  were  alike  indignant  at  the  favour  shown  by 
the  court  to  the  natives  of  Poitou  and  Aquitaine.  The  great 
grandsons  of  those  who  had  fought  under  William  and  the  great 
grandsons  of  those  who  had  fought  under  Harold  began  to  draw 
near  to  each  other  in  friendship ;  and  the  first  pledge  of  their 
reconciliation  was  the  Great  Charter,  won  by  their  united 
exertions,  and  framed  for  their  common  benefit. 

Here  commences  the  history  of  the  English  nation.  The 
history  of  the  preceding  events  is  the  history  of  wrongs 
inflicted  and  sustained  by  various  tribes,  which  indeed  all  dwelt 
on  English  ground,  but  which  regarded  each  other  with  aversion 
such  as  has  scarcely  ever  existed  between  communities  separated 
by  physical  barriers.  For  even  the  mutual  animosity  of 
countries  at  war  with  each  other  is  languid  when  compared  with 
the  animosity  of  nations  which,  morally  separated,  are  yet  locally 
intermingled.  In  no  country  has  the  enmity  of  race  been 
carried  farther  than  in  England.  In  no  country  has  that  enmity 
been  more  completely  effaced.  The  stages  of  the  process  by 
which  the  hostile  elements  were  melted  down  into  one  homo- 
geneous mass  are  not  accurately  known  to  us.  But  it  is  cer- 
tain that,  when  John  became  King,  the  distinction  between 
Saxons  and  Normans  was  strongly  marked,  and  that  before  the 
end  of  the  reign  of  his  grandson  it  had  almost  disappeared. 


In  the  time  of  Richard  the  First,  the  ordinary  imprecation  of 
a  Norman  gentleman  was  "  May  I  become  an  EngHshman  ! " 
His  ordinary  form  of  indignant  denial  was  "  Do  you  take  me 
for  an  Englishman  ?  "  The  descendant  of  such  a  gentleman  a 
hundred  years  later  was  proud  of  the  English  name. 

The  sources  of  the  noblest  rivers  which  spread  fertility  over 
continents,  and  bear  richly  laden  fleets  to  the  sea,  are  to  be 
sought  in  wild  and  barren  mountain  tracts,  incorrectly  laid 
down  in  maps,  and  rarely  explored  by  travellers.  To  such  a 
tract  the  history  of  our  country  during  the  thirteenth  century 
may  not  unaptly  be  compared.  Sterile  and  obscure  as  is  that 
portion  of  our  annals,  it  is  there  that  we  must  seek  for  the 
origin  of  our  freedom,  our  prosperity,  and  our  glory.  Then  it 
was  that  the  great  English  people  was  formed,  that  the  national 
character  began  to  exhibit  those  peculiarities  which  it  has  ever 
since  retained,  and  that  our  fathers  became  emphatically 
islanders,  islanders  not  merely  in  geographical  position,  but  in 
their  politics,  their  feehngs,  and  theirs  manners.  Then  first 
appeared  with  distinctness  that  constitution  which  has  ever 
since,  through  all  changes,  preserved  its  identity ;  that  con- 
stitution of  which  all  the  other  free  constitutions  in  the  world 
are  copies,  and  which,  in  spite  of  some  defects,  deserves  to  be 
regarded  as  the  best  under  which  any  great  society  has  ever  yet 
existed  during  many  ages.  Then  it  was  that  the  House  of 
Commons,  the  archetype  of  all  the  representative  assemblies 
which  now  meet,  either  in  the  old  or  in  the  new  world,  held  its 
first  sittings.  Then  it  was  that  the  common  law  rose  to  the 
dignity  of  a  science,  and  rapidly  became  a  not  unworthy  rival 
of  the  imperial  jurisprudence.  Then  it  was  that  the  courage  of 
those  sailors  who  manned  the  rude  barks  of  the  Cinque  Ports 
first  made  the  flag  of  England  terrible  on  the  seas.  Then  it 
was  that  the  most  ancient  colleges  which  still  exist  at  both  the 
great  national  seats  of  learning  were  founded.  Then  was  formed 
that  language,  less  musical  indeed  than  the  languages  of  the 
south,  but  in  force,  in  richness,  in  aptitude  for  all  the  highest 
purposes  of  the  poet,  the  philosopher,  and  the  orator,  inferior 
to  the  tongue  of  Greece  alone.  Then  too  appeared  the  first 
faint  dawn  of  that  noble  literature,  the  most  splendid  and  the 
most  durable  of  the  many  glories  of  England. 

Early  in  the  fourteenth  century  the  amalgamation  of  the 
races  was  all  but  complete  ;  and  it  was  soon  made  manifest,  by 
signs  not  to  be  mistaken,  that  a  people  inferior  to  none 
existing  in  the  world  had  been  formed  by  the  mixture  of  three 
branches  of  the  great  Teutonic  family  with  each  other,  and 


with  the  aboriginal  Britons.  There  was,  indeed,  scarcely  any 
thing  in  common  between  the  England  to  which  John  had  been 
chased  by  Philip  Augustus,  and  the  England  from  which  the 
armies  of  Edward  the  Third  went  forth  to  conquer  France. 

A  period  of  more  than  a  hundred  years  followed,  during 
which  the  chief  object  of  the  English  was  to  establish,  by  force 
of  arms,  a  great  empire  on  the  Continent.  The  claim  of 
Edward  to  the  inheritance  occupied  by  the  House  of  Valois 
was  a  claim  in  which  it  might  seem  that  his  subjects  were  little 
interested.  But  the  passion  for  conquest  spread  fast  from  the 
prince  to  the  people.  The  war  differed  widely  from  the  wars 
which  the  Plantagenets  of  the  twelfth  century  had  waged 
against  the  descendants  of  Hugh  Capet.  For  the  success  of 
Henry  the  Second,  or  of  Richard  the  First,  would  have  made 
England  a  province  of  France.  The  effect  of  the  successes  of 
Edward  the  Third  and  of  Henry  the  Fifth  was  to  make  France, 
for  a  time,  a  province  of  England.  The  disdain  with  which,  in 
the  twelfth  century,  the  conquerors  from  the  Continent  had 
regarded  the  islanders,  was  now  retorted  by  the  islanders  on 
the  people  of  the  Continent,  Every  yeoman  from  Kent  to 
Northumberland  valued  himself  as  one  of  a  race  born  for 
victory  and  dominion,  and  looked  down  with  scorn  on  the 
nation  before  which  his  ancestors  had  trembled.  Even  those 
knights  of  Gascony  and  Guienne  who  had  fought  gallantly 
under  the  Black  Prince  were  regarded  by  the  English  as  men 
of  an  inferior  breed,  and  were  contemptuously  excluded  from 
honourable  and  lucrative  commands.  In  no  long  time  our 
ancestors  altogether  lost  sight  of  the  original  ground  of  quarrel. 
They  began  to  consider  the  crown  of  France  as  a  mere  appen- 
dage to  the  crown  of  England ;  and  when,  in  violation  of  the 
ordinary  law  of  succession,  they  transferred  the  crown  of 
England  to  the  House  of  Lancaster,  they  seem  to  have 
thought  that  the  right  of  Richard  the  Second  to  the  crown  of 
France  passed,  as  of  course,  to  that  house.  The  zeal  and 
vigour  which  they  displayed  present  a  remarkable  contrast  to 
the  torpor  of  the  French,  who  were  far  more  deeply  interested 
in  the  event  of  the  struggle.  The  greatest  victories  recorded 
in  the  history  of  the  middle  ages  were  gained  at  this  time, 
against  great  odds,  by  the  English  armies.  Victories  indeed 
they  were  of  which  a  nation  may  justly  be  proud ;  for  they  are 
to  be  attributed  to  the  moral  superiority  of  the  victors,  a 
superiority  which  was  most  striking  in  the  lowest  ranks.  The 
knights  of  England  found  worthy  rivals  in  the  knights  of 
France.     Chandos  encountered  an  equal  foe  in  Du  Guesclin. 


But  France  had  no  infantry  that  dared  to  face  the  English  bows 
and  bills.  A  French  King  was  brought  prisoner  to  London. 
An  English  King  was  crowned  at  Paris.  The  banner  of  Saint 
George  was  carried  far  beyond  the  Pyrenees  and  the  Alps. 
On  the  south  of  the  Ebro  the  English  won  a  great  battle, 
which  for  a  time  decided  the  fate  of  Leon  and  Castile  ;  and 
the  English  Companies  obtained  a  terrible  pre-eminence  among 
the  bands  of  warriors  who  let  out  their  weapons  for  hire  to  the 
princes  and  commonwealths  of  Italy. 

Nor  were  the  arts  of  peace  neglected  by  our  fathers  durin- 
that  stirrmg  period.  While  France  was  wasted  by  war,  till  sht 
at  length  found  in  her  own  desolation  a  miserable  defence 
against  invaders,  the  English  gathered  in  their  harvests, 
adorned  their  cities,  pleaded,  traded,  and  studied  in  security. 
Many  of  our  noblest  architectural  monuments  belong  to  that 
age.  Then  rose  the  fair  chapels  of  New  College  and  of  Saint 
George,  the  nave  of  Winchester  and  the  choir  of  York,  the 
spire  of  Salisbury  and  the  majestic  tow^ers  of  Lincoln.  A 
copious  and  forcible  language,  formed  by  an  infusion  of  French 
into  German,  was  now  the  common  property  of  the  aristocracy 
and  of  the  people.  Nor  was  it  long  before  genius  began  to 
apply  that  admirable  machine  to  worthy  purposes.  While 
English  battalions,  leaving  behind  them  the  devastated  pro- 
vinces of  France,  entered  Valladolid  in  triumph,  and  spread 
terror  to  the  gates  of  Florence,  English  poets  depicted  in  vivid 
tints  all  the  wide  variety  of  human  manners  and  fortunes,  and 
English  thinkers  aspired  to  know,  or  dared  to  doubt,  where 
bigots  had  been  content  to  wonder  and  to  believe.  The  same 
age  which  produced  the  Black  Prince  and  Derby,  Chandos 
and  Hawkwood,  produced  also  Geoffrey  Chaucer  and  John 

In  so  splendid  and  imperial  a  manner  did  the  English 
people,  properly  so  called,  first  take  place  among  the  nations 
of  the  world.  Yet  while  we  contemplate  with  pleasure  the 
high  and  commanding  qualities  which  our  forefathers  displayed, 
we  cannot  but  admit  that  the  end  which  they  pursued  was  an 
end  condemned  both  by  humanity  and  by  enlightened  policy, 
and  that  the  reverses  which  compelled  them,  after  a  lony 
and  bloody  struggle,  to  relinquish  the  hope  of  establishing  a 
great  continental  empire,  were  really  blessings  in  the  guise  of 
disasters  The  spirit  of  the  French  was  at  last  aroused  :  they 
began  to  oppose  a  vigorous  national  resistance  to  the  foreign 
conquerors  ;  and  from  that  time  the  skill  of  the  English  cap- 
tains and  the  courage  of  the  English  soldiers  were,  happily 


for  mankind,  exerted  in  vain.  After  many  desperate  struggles, 
and  with  many  bitter  regrets,  our  ancestors  gave  up  the  contest. 
Since  that  age  no  British  government  has  ever  seriously  and 
steadily  pursued  the  design  of  making  great  conquests  on  the 
Continent.  The  people,  indeed,  continued  to  cherish  with 
pride  the  recollection  of  Cressy,  of  Poitiers,  and  of  Agincourt. 
Even  after  the  lapse  of  many  years  it  was  easy  to  fire  their 
blood  and  to  draw  forth  their  subsidies  by  promising  them 
an  expedition  for  the  conquest  of  France.  But  happily  the 
energies  of  our  country  have  been  directed  to  better  objects ; 
and  she  now  occupies  in  the  history  of  mankind  a  place  far 
more  glorious  than  if  she  had,  as  at  one  time  seemed  not 
improbable,  acquired  by  the  sword  an  ascendency  similar  to 
that  which  formerly  belonged  to  the  Roman  repubHc. 

Cooped  up  once  more  within  the  limits  of  the  island,  the 
warlike  people  employed  in  civil  strife  those  arms  which  had 
been  the  terror  of  Europe.  The  means  of  profuse  expenditure 
had  long  been  drawn  by  the  English  barons  from  the  oppressed 
provinces  of  France.  That  source  of  supply  was  gone ;  but 
the  ostentatious  and  luxurious  habits  which  prosperity  had 
engendered  still  remained ;  and  the  great  lords,  unable  to 
gratify  their  tastes  by  plundering  the  French,  were  eager  to 
plunder  each  other.  The  realm  to  which  they  were  now  con- 
fined would  not,  in  the  phrase  of  Comines,  the  most  judicious 
observer  of  that  time,  suffice  for  them  all.  Two  aristocratical 
factions,  headed  by  two  branches  of  the  royal  family,  engaged 
in  a  long  and  fierce  struggle  for  supremacy.  As  the  animosity 
of  those  factions  did  not  really  arise  from  the  dispute  about 
the  succession,  it  lasted  long  after  all  ground  of  dispute  about 
the  succession  was  removed.  The  party  of  the  Red  Rose 
survived  the  last  prince  who  claimed  the  crown  in  right  of 
Henry  the  Fourth.  The  party  of  the  White  Rose  survived  the 
marriage  of  Richmond  and  Elizabeth.  Left  without  chiefs 
who  had  any  decent  show  of  right,  the  adherents  of  Lancaster 
rallied  round  a  line  of  bastards,  and  the  adherents  of  York  set 
up  a  succession  of  impostors.  When,  at  length,  many  aspiring 
nobles  had  perished  on  the  field  of  battle  or  by  the  hands  of 
the  executioner,  when  many  illustrious  houses  had  disappeared 
for  ever  from  history,  when  those  great  families  which  remained 
had  been  exhausted  and  sobered  by  calamities,  it  was  univer- 
sally acknowledged  that  the  claims  of  all  the  contending 
Plantagenets  were  united  in  the  house  of  Tudor. 

Meanwhile  a  change  was  proceeding  infinitely  more 
momentous  than   the  acquisition  or  loss  of  any  province,  than 


the  rise  or  fall  of  any  dynasty.     Slavery  and  the  evils  by  which 
slavery  is  everywhere  accompanied  were  fast  disappearing. 

It  is  remarkable  that  the  two  greatest  and  most  salutary 
social  revolutions  which  have  taken  place  in  England,  that 
revolution  which,  in  the  thirteenth  century,  put  an  end  to  the 
tyranny  of  nation  over  nation,  and  that  revolution  which,  a  few 
generations  later,  put  an  end  to  the  property  of  man  in  man, 
were  silently  and  imperceptibly  effected.  They  struck  contem- 
porary observers  with  no  surprise,  and  have  received  from 
historians  a  very  scanty  measure  of  attention.  Ihey  were 
brought  about  neither  by  legislative  regulation  nor  by  physical 
force.  Moral  causes  noiselessly  effaced  first  the  distinction 
between  Norman  and  Saxon,  and  then  the  distinction  between 
master  and  slave.  None  can  venture  to  fix  the  precise  moment 
at  which  either  distinction  ceased.  Some  faint  traces  of  the 
old  Norman  feeling  might  perhaps  have  been  found  late  in  the 
fourteenth  century.  Some  faint  traces  of  the  institution  of 
villenage  were  detected  by  the  curious  so  late  as  the  days  of 
the  Stuarts ;  nor  has  that  institution  ever,  to  this  hour,  been 
abolished  by  statute. 

It  would  be  most  unjust  not  to  acknowledge  that  the  chief 
agent  in  these  two  great  deliverances  was  religion ;  and  it  may 
perhaps  be  doubted  whether  a  purer  religion  might  not  have 
been  found  a  less  efficient  agent.  The  benevolent  spirit  of  the 
Christian  morality  is  undoubtedly  adverse  to  distinctions  of 
caste.  But  to  the  Church  of  Rome  such  distinctions  are 
peculiarly  odious;  for  they  are  incompatible  with  other  dis- 
tinctions which  are  essential  to  her  system.  She  ascribes  to 
every  priest  a  mysterious  dignity  which  entitles  him  to  the 
reverence  of  every  layman  ;  and  she  does  not  consider  any 
man  as  disqualified,  by  reason  of  his  nation  or  of  his  family, 
for  the  priesthood.  Her  doctrines  respecting  the  sacerdotal 
character,  however  erroneous  they  may  be,  have  repeatedly 
mitigated  some  of  the  worst  evils  which  can  afflict  society. 
That  superstition  cannot  be  regarded  as  unmixedly  noxious 
which,  in  regions  cursed  by  the  tyranny  of  race  over  race, 
creates  an  aristocracy  altogether  independent  of  race,  inverts 
the  relation  between  the  oppressor  and  the  oppressed,  and 
compels  the  hereditary  master  to  kneel  before  the  spiritual 
tribunal  of  the  hereditary  bondman.  To  this  day,  in  some 
countries  where  negro  slavery  exists.  Popery  appears  in  advan- 
tageous contrast  to  other  forms  of  Christianity.  Jt  is  notorious 
that  the  antipathy  between  the  European  and  African  races  is 
by  no  means  so  strong  at  Rio  Janeiro  as  at  Washington.     In 


our  own  country  this  peculiarity  of  the  Roman  Catholic  system 
produced,  during  the  middle  ages,  many  salutary  effects.  It 
is  true  that,  shortly  after  the  battle  of  Hastmgs,  Saxon  prelates 
and  abbots  were  violently  deposed,  and  that  ecclesiastical 
adventurers  from  the  Continent  were  intruded  by  hundreds 
into  lucrative  benefices.  Yet  even  then  pious  divines  of 
Norman  blood  raised  their  voices  against  such  a  violation  of 
the  constitution  of  the  Church,  refused  to  accept  mitres  from 
the  hands  of  the  Conqueror,  and  charged  him,  on  the  peril  of 
his  soul,  not  to  forget  that  the  vanquished  islanders  were  his 
fellow  Christians.  The  first  protector  whom  the  English 
found  among  the  dominant  caste  was  Archbishop  Anselm.  At 
a  time  when  the  English  name  was  a  reproach,  and  when  all 
the  civil  and  military  dignities  of  the  kingdom  were  supposed 
to  belong  exclusively  to  the  countrymen  of  the  Conqueror,  the 
despised  race  learned,  with  transports  of  delight,  that  one  of 
themselves,  Nicholas  Breakspear,  had  been  elevated  to  the 
papal  throne,  and  had  held  out  his  foot  to  be  kissed  by  am- 
bassadors sprung  from  the  noblest  houses  of  Normandy.  It 
was  a  national  as  well  as  a  religious  feeling  that  drew  great 
multitudes  to  the  shrine  of  Becket,  the  first  Englishman  who, 
since  the  Conquest,  had  been  terrible  to  the  foreign  tyrants. 
A  successor  of  Becket  was  foremost  among  those  who  ob- 
tained that  charter  which  secured  at  once  the  privileges  of  the 
Norman  barons  and  of  the  Saxon  yeomanry.  How  great  a 
part  the  Roman  Catholic  ecclesiastics  subsequently  had  in  the 
abolition  of  villenage  we  learn  from  the  unexceptionable  testi- 
mony of  Sir  Thomas  Smith,  one  of  the  ablest  Protestant  coun- 
sellors of  Elizabeth.  When  the  dying  slaveholder  asked  for 
the  last  sacraments,  his  spiritual  attendants  regularly  adjured 
him,  as  he  loved  his  soul,  to  emancipate  his  brethren  for  whom 
Christ  had  died.  So  successfully  had  the  Church  used  her 
formidable  machinery  that,  before  the  Reformation  came,  she 
had  enfranchised  almost  all  the  bondmen  in  the  kingdom  except 
her  own,  who,  to  do  her  justice,  seem  to  have  been  very 
tenderly  treated. 

There  can  be  no  doubt,  that,  when  these  two  great  revolu- 
tions had  been  effected,  our  forefathers  were  by  far  the  best 
governed  people  in  Europe.  During  three  hundred  years  the 
social  system  had  been  in  a  constant  course  of  improvement. 
Under  the  first  Plantagenets  there  had  been  barons  able  to  bid 
defiance  to  the  sovereign,  and  peasants  degraded  to  the  level  of 
the  swine  and  oxen  which  they  tended.  The  exorbitant  power 
of  the  baron  had  been  gradually  reduced.     The  condition  of 


the  peasant  had  been  gradually  elevated.  Between  the 
aristocracy  and  the  working  people  had  sprung  up  a  middle 
class,  agricultural  and  commercial.  There  was  still,  it  may  be, 
more  inequality  than  is  favourable  to  the  happiness  and  virtue 
of  our  species  :  but  no  man  was  altogether  above  the  restraints 
of  law  ;  and  no  man  was  altogether  below  its  protection. 

That  the  political  institutions  of  England  were,  at  this 
early  period,  regarded  by  the  English  with  pride  and  affection, 
and  by  the  most  enlightened  men  of  the  neighbouring  nations 
with  admiration  and  envy,  is  proved  by  the  clearest  evidence. 
But  touching  the  nature  of  those  institutions,  there  has  been 
much  dishonest  and  acrimonious  controversy. 

The  historical  literature  of  England  has  indeed  suffered 
grievously  from  a  circumstance  which  has  not  a  little  contrib- 
uted to  her  prosperity.  The  change,  great  as  it  is,  which  her 
polity  has  undergone  during  the  last  six  centuries,  has  been 
the  effect  of  gradual  development,  not  of  demolition  and 
reconstruction.  The  present  constitution  of  our  country  is,  to 
the  constitution  under  which  she  flourished  five  hundred  years 
ago,  what  the  tree  is  to  the  sapling,  what  the  man  is  to  the  boy. 
The  alteration  has  been  great.  Yet  there  never  was  a  moment 
at  which  the  chief  part  of  what  existed  was  not  old.  A  polity 
thus  formed  must  abound  in  anomalies.  But  for  the  evils 
arising  from  mere  anomalies  we  have  ample  compensation. 
Other  societies  possess  written  constitutions  more  symmetrical. 
But  no  other  society  has  yet  succeeded  in  uniting  revolution 
with  prescription,  progress  with  stability,  the  energy  of  youth 
with  the  majesty  of  immemorial  antiquity. 

This  great  blessing,  however,  has  its  drawbacks  :  and  one  of 
those  drawbacks  is,  that  every  source  of  information  as  to  our 
early  history  has  been  poisoned  by  party  spirit.  As  there  is  no 
country  where  statesmen  have  been  so  much  under  the  influence 
of  the  past,  so  there  is  no  country  where  historians  have  been 
so  much  under  the  influence  of  the  present.  Between  these 
two  things,  indeed,  there  is  a  natural  connection.  Where 
history  is  regarded  merely  as  a  picture  of  life  and  manners, 
or  as  a  collection  of  experiments  from  which  general  maxims 
of  civil  wisdom  may  be  drawn,  a  writer  lies  under  no  very 
pressing  temptation  to  misrepresent  transactions  of  ancient 
date.  But  where  history  is  regarded  as  a  repository  of  title- 
deeds,  on  which  the  rights  of  governments  and  nations  depend, 
the  motive  to  falsification  becomes  almost  irresistible.  A 
Frenchman  is  not  now  impelled  by  any  strong  interest  either 
to  exaggerate  or  to  underrate  the  power  of  the  kings  of  the 


house  of  Valois.  The  privileges  of  the  States  General,  of  the 
States  of  Britanny,  of  the  States  of  Burgundy,  are  now  matters 
of  as  little  practical  importance  as  the  constitution  of  the 
Jewish  Sanhedrim,  or  of  the  Amphictyonic  Council,  The 
gulph  of  a  great  revolution  completely  separates  the  new  from 
the  old  system.  No  such  chasm  divides  the  existence  of  the 
English  nation  into  two  distinct  parts.  Our  laws  and  customs 
have  never  been  lost  in  general  and  irreparable  ruin.  With  us 
the  precedents  of  the  middle  ages  are  still  valid  precedents,  and 
are  still  cited,  on  the  gravest  occasions,  by  the  most  eminent 
statesmen.  Thus,  when  King  George  the  Third  was  attacked 
by  the  malady  which  made  him  incapable  of  performing  his  regal 
functions,  and  when  the  most  distinguished  lawyers  aid 
politicians  differed  widely  as  to  the  course  which  ought,  in 
such  circumstances,  to  be  pursued,  the  Houses  of  Parliament 
would  not  proceed  to  discuss  any  plan  of  regency  till  all  the 
examples  which  were  to  be  found  in  our  annals,  from  the 
earliest  times,  had  been  collected  and  arranged.  Committees 
were  appointed  to  examine  the  ancient  records  of  the  realm. 
The  first  precedent  reported  was  that  of  the  year  1 2 1 7  :  much 
importance  was  attached  to  the  precedents  of  1326,  of  1377, 
and  of  1422  :  but  the  case  which  was  justly  considered  as  most 
in  point  was  that  of  1455.  Thus  in  our  country  the  dearest 
interests  of  parties  have  frequently  been  staked  on  the  results 
of  the  researches  of  antiquaries.  The  inevitable  conse- 
quence was,  that  our  antiquaries  conducted  their  researches 
in  the  spirit  of  partisans. 

It  is  therefore  not  surprising  that  those  who  have  written 
concerning  the  limits  of  prerogative  and  liberty  in  the  old 
polity  of  England  should  generally  have  shown  the  temper,  not 
of  judges,  but  of  angry  and  uncandid  advocates.  For  they 
were  discussing,  not  a  speculative  matter,  but  a  matter  which 
had  a  direct  and  practical  connection  with  the  most  momentous 
and  exciting  disputes  of  their  own  day.  From  the  commence- 
ment of  the  long  contest  between  the  Parliament  and  the 
Stuarts  down  to  the  time  when  the  pretensions  of  the  Stuarts 
ceased  to  be  formidable,  few  questions  were  practically  more 
important  than  the  question  whether  the  administration  of  that 
family  had  or  had  not  been  in  accordance  with  the  ancient 
constitution  of  the  kingdom.  This  question  could  be  decided 
only  by  reference  to  the  records  of  preceding  reigns.  Bracton 
and  Fleta,  the  Mirror  of  Justice  and  the  Rolls  of  Parhament, 
were  ransacked  to  find  pretexts  for  the  excesses  of  the  Star 
Chamber  on  one  side,  and  of  the  High  Court  of  Justice  on  the 


Other.  During  a  long  course  of  years  every  Whig  historian 
was  anxious  to  prove  that  the  old  English  government  was  all 
but  republican,  every  Tory  historian  to  prove  that  it  was  all  but 

With  such  feelings,  both  parties  looked  into  the  chronicles 
of  the  middle  ages.  Both  readily  found  what  they  sought ; 
and  both  obstinately  refused  to  see  anything  but  what  they 
sought.  The  champions  of  the  Stuarts  could  easily  point 
out  instances  of  oppression  exercised  on  the  subject.  The 
defenders  of  the  Roundheads  could  as  easily  produce  instances 
of  determined  and  successful  resistance  offered  to  the  Crown. 
The  Tories  quoted,  from  ancient  writings,  expressions  almost 
as  servile  as  were  heard  from  the  pulpit  of  Mainwaring.  The 
Whigs  discovered  expressions  as  bold  and  severe  as  any  that 
resounded  from  the  judgment  seat  of  Bradshaw.  One  set  of 
writers  adduced  numerous  instances  in  which  Kings  had 
extorted  money  without  the  authority  of  Parliament.  Another 
set  cited  cases  in  which  the  Parliament  had  assumed  to  itself 
the  power  of  inflicting  punishment  on  Kings.  Those  who  saw 
only  one  half  of  the  evidence  would  have  concluded  that  the 
Plantagenets  were  as  absolute  as  the  Sultans  of  Turkey  :  those 
who  saw  only  the  other  half  would  have  concluded  that  the 
Plantagenets  had  as  little  real  power  as  the  Doges  of  Venice ;  and 
both  conclusions  would  have  been  equally  remote  from  the  truth. 

The  old  English  government  was  one  of  a  class  of  limited 
monarchies  which  sprang  up  in  Western  Europe  during  the 
middle  ages,  and  which,  notwithstanding  many  diversities,  bore 
to  one  another  a  strong  family  likeness.  That  there  should 
have  been  such  a  likeness  is  not  strange.  The  countries  in 
which  those  monarchies  arose  had  been  provinces  of  the  same 
great  civilised  empire,  and  had  been  overrun  and  conquered, 
about  the  same  time,  by  tribes  of  the  same  rude  and  warlike 
nation.  They  were  members  of  the  same  great  coalition 
against  Islam.  They  were  in  communion  with  the  same  superb 
and  ambitious  Church.  Their  polity  naturally  took  the  same 
form.  They  had  institutions  derived  partly  from  imperial 
Rome,  partly  from  papal  Rome,  partly  from  the  old 
Germany.  All  had  Kings  ;  and  in  all  the  kingly  ofiice  became 
by  degrees  strictly  hereditary.  All  had  nobles  bearing  titles 
which  had  originally  indicated  military  rank.  The  dignity  of 
knighthood,  the  rules  of  heraldry,  were  common  to  all.  All  had 
richly  endowed  ecclesiastical  establishments,  municipal  cor- 
porations enjoying  large  franchises,  and  senates  whose  consent 
was  necessary  to  the  validity  of  some  public  acts. 


Of  these  kindred  constitutions  the  English  was,  from  an  early 
period,  justly  reputed  the  best.  The  prerogatives  of  the 
sovereign  were  undoubtedly  extensive.  The  spirit  of  religion, 
and  the  spirit  of  chivalry,  concurred  to  exalt  his  dignity.  The 
sacred  oil  had  been  poured  on  his  head.  It  was  no  disparage- 
ment to  the  bravest  and  noblest  knights  to  kneel  at  his  feet. 
His  person  was  inviolable.  He  alone  was  entitled  to  convoke 
the  Estates  of  the  realm  :  he  could  at  his  pleasure  dismiss 
them  ;  and  his  assent  was  necessary  to  all  their  legislative  acts. 
He  was  the  chief  of  the  executive  administration,  the  sole 
organ  of  communication  with  foreign  powers,  the  captain  of  the 
military  and  naval  forces  of  the  state,  the  fountain  of  justice,  of 
mercy,  and  of  honour.  He  had  large  powers  for  the  regulation 
of  trade.  It  was  by  him  that  money  was  coined,  that  weights 
and  measures  were  fixed,  that  marts  and  havens  were  appointed. 
His  ecclesiastical  patronage  was  immense.  His  hereditary 
revenues,  economically  administered,  sufficed  to  meet  the 
ordinary  charges  of  government.  His  own  domains  were  of 
vast  extent.  He  was  also  feudal  lord  paramount  of  the  whole 
soil  of  his  kingdom,  and,  in  that  capacity,  possessed  many 
lucrative  and  many  formidable  rights,  which  enabled  him  to 
annoy  and  depress  those  who  thwarted  him,  and  to  enrich 
and  aggrandise,  without  any  cost  to  himself,  those  who  enjoyed 
his  favour. 

But  his  power,  though  ample,  was  limited  by  three  great 
constitutional  principles,  so  ancient  that  none  can  say  when 
they  began  to  exist,  so  potent  that  their  natural  development, 
continued  through  many  generations,  has  produced  the  order 
of  things  under  which  we  now  live. 

First,  the  King  could  not  legislate  without  the  consent  of  his 
Parliament.  Secondly,  he  could  impose  no  taxes  without  the 
consent  of  his  Parliament.  Thirdly,  he  was  bound  to  conduct 
the  executive  administration  according  to  the  laws  of  the  land, 
and,  if  he  broke  those  laws,  his  advisers  and  his  agents  were 

No  candid  Tory  will  deny  that  these  principles  had,  five 
hundred  years  ago,  acquired  the  authority  of  fundamental  rules. 
On  the  other  hand,  no  candid  Whig  will  affirm  that  they  were, 
till  a  later  period,  cleared  from  all  ambiguity,  or  followed  out 
to  all  their  consequences.  A  constitution  of  the  middle  ages 
was  not,  like  a  constitution  of  the  eighteenth  or  nineteenth 
century,  created  entire  by  a  single  act,  and  fully  set  forth  in 
a  single  document.  It  is  only  in  a  refined  and  specula- 
tive age    that    a  polity  is  constructed    on  system.     In  rude 


societies  the  progress  of  government  resembles  the  progress  of 
language  and  of  versification.  Rude  societies  have  language, 
and  often  copious  and  energetic  language :  but  they  have  no 
scientific  grammar,  no  definitions  of  nouns  and  verbs,  no  names 
for  declensions,  moods,  tenses,  and  voices.  Rude  societies 
have  versification,  and  often  versification  of  great  power  and 
sweetness  :  but  they  have  no  metrical  canons ;  and  the  minstrel 
whose  numbers,  regulated  solely  by  his  ear,  are  the  delight  of 
his  audience,  would  himself  be  unable  to  say  of  how  many 
dactyls  and  trochees  each  of  his  lines  consists.  As  eloquence 
exists  before  syntax,  and  song  before  prosody,  so  government 
may  exist  in  a  high  degree  of  excellence  long  before  the  limits 
of  legislative,  executive,  and  judicial  power  have  been  traced 
with  precision. 

It  was  thus  in  our  country.  The  line  which  bounded  the 
royal  prerogative,  though  in  general  sufficiently  clear,  had  not 
everywhere  been  drawn  with  accuracy  and  distinctness.  There 
was,  therefore,  near  the  border  some  debatable  ground  on 
which  incursions  and  reprisals  continued  to  take  place,  till, 
after  ages  of  strife,  plain  and  durable  landmarks  were  at  length 
set  up.  It  may  be  instructive  to  note  in  what  way,  and  to  what 
extent,  our  ancient  sovereigns  were  in  the  habit  of  violating 
the  three  great  principles  by  which  the  liberties  of  the  nation 
were  protected. 

No  English  King  has  ever  laid  claim  to  the  general  legisla- 
tive power.  The  most  violent  and  imperious  Plantagenet 
never  fancied  himself  competent  to  enact,  without  the  consent 
of  his  great  council,  that  a  jury  should  consist  of  ten  persons 
instead  of  twelve,  that  a  widow's  dower  should  be  a  fourth  part 
instead  of  a  third,  that  perjury  should  be  a  felony,  or  that  the 
custom  of  gavelkind  should  be  introduced  into  Yorkshire.* 
But  the  King  had  the  power  of  pardoning  offenders  ;  and  there 
is  one  point  at  which  the  power  of  pardoning  and  the  power 
of  legislating  seem  to  fade  into  each  other,  and  may  easily,  at 
least  in  a  simple  age,  be  confounded.  A  penal  statute  is 
virtually  annulled  if  the  penalties  which  it  imposes  are  regularly 
remitted  as  often  as  they  are  incurred.  The  sovereign  was 
undoubtedly  competent  to  remit  penalties  without  limit.  He 
was  therefore  competent  to  annul  virtually  a  penal  statute.  It 
might  seem  that  there  could  be  no  serious  objection  to  his 
domg  formally  what  he  might  do  virtually.  Thus,  with  the 
help  of  subtle  and  courtly  lawyers,  grew  up,  on  the  doubtful 

*    This  is  excellently  put  by  Mr.   Hallam  in    the  first  chapter   of  his 
Constitutional  History. 


frontier  which  separates  executive  from  legislative  functions, 
that  great  anomaly  known  as  the  dispensing  power. 

That  the  King  could  not  impose  taxes  without  the  consent 
of  Parhament  is  admitted  to  have  been,  from  time  immemorial, 
a  fundamental  law  of  England.  It  was  among  the  articles 
which  John  was  compelled  by  the  Barons  to  sign.  Edward 
the  First  ventured  to  break  through  the  rule :  but,  able,  power- 
ful, and  popular  as  he  was,  he  encountered  an  opposition 
to  which  he  found  it  expedient  to  yield.  He  covenanted 
accordingly  in  express  terms,  for  himself  and  his  heirs,  that 
they  would  never  again  levy  any  aid  without  the  assent  and 
good-will  of  the  Estates  of  the  realm.  His  powerful  and 
victorious  grandson  attempted  to  violate  this  solemn  compact  : 
but  the  attempt  was  strenuously  withstood.  At  length  the 
Plantagenets  gave  up  the  point  in  despair ;  but  though  they 
ceased  to  infringe  the  law  openly,  they  occasionally  contrived, 
by  evading  it,  to  procure  an  extraordinary  supply  for  a  tem- 
porary purpose.  They  were  interdicted  from  taxing ;  but  they 
claimed  the  right  of  begging  and  borrowing.  They  therefore 
sometimes  begged  in  a  tone  not  to  be  distinguished  from  that 
of  command,  and  sometimes  borrowed  with  small  thought  of 
repaying.  But  the  fact  that  it  was  thought  necessary  to  dis- 
guise these  exactions  under  the  names  of  benevolences  and 
loans  sufficiently  proves  that  the  authority  of  the  great  con- 
stitutional rule  was  universally  recognised. 

The  principle  that  the  King  of  England  was  bound  to  con- 
duct the  administration  according  to  law,  and  that,  if  he  did 
anything  against  law,  his  advisers  and  agents  were  answerable, 
was  established  at  a  very  early  period,  as  the  severe  judgments 
pronounced  and  executed  on  many  royal  favourites  sufficiently 
prove.  It  is,  however,  certain  that  the  rights  of  individuals 
were  often  violated  by  the  Plantagenets,  and  that  the  injured 
parties  were  often  unable  to  obtain  redress.  According  to  law 
no  Englishman  could  be  arrested  or  detained  in  confinement 
merely  by  the  mandate  of  the  sovereign.  In  fact,  persons 
obnoxious  to  the  government  were  frequently  imprisoned  with- 
out any  other  authority  than  a  royal  order.  According  to  law, 
torture,  the  disgrace  of  the  Roman  jurisprudence,  could  not, 
in  any  circumstances,  be  inflicted  on  an  English  subject. 
Nevertheless,  during  the  troubles  of  the  fifteenth  century,  a 
rack  was  introduced  into  the  Tower,  and  was  occasionally  used 
under  the  plea  of  political  necessity.  But  it  would  be  a  great 
error  to  infer  from  such  irregularities  that  the  English 
monarchs  were,  either  in  theory  or  in  practice,  absolute.     We 


live  in  a  highly  civilised  society,  in  which  intelligence  is  so 
rapidly  diffused  by  means  of  the  press  and  of  the  post  office, 
that  any  gross  act  of  oppression  committed  in  any  part  of  our 
island  is,  in  a  few  hours,  discussed  by  millions.  If  the 
sovereign  were  now  to  immure  a  subject  in  defiance  of  the  writ 
of  Habeas  Corpus,  or  to  put  a  conspirator  to  the  torture,  the 
whole  nation  would  be  instantly  electrified  by  the  news.  In 
the  middle  ages  the  state  of  society  was  widely  different. 
Rarely  and  with  great  difficulty  did  the  wrongs  of  individuals 
come  to  the  knowledge  of  the  public.  A  man  might  be 
illegally  confined  during  many  months  in  the  castle  of  Carlisle 
or  Norwich ;  and  no  whisper  of  the  transaction  might  reach 
London.  It  is  highly  probable  that  the  rack  had  been  many 
years  in  use  before  the  great  majority  of  the  nation  had  the 
least  suspicion  that  it  was  ever  employed.  Nor  were  our 
ancestors  by  any  means  so  much  alive  as  we  are  to  the  import- 
ance of  maintaining  great  general  rules.  We  have  been  taught 
by  long  experience  that  we  cannot  without  danger  suffer  any 
breach  of  the  constitution  to  pass  unnoticed.  It  is  therefore 
now  universally  held  that  a  government  which  unnecessarily 
exceeds  its  powers  ought  to  be  visited  with  severe  parliament- 
ary censure,  and  that  a  government  which,  under  the  pressure 
of  a  great  exigency,  and  with  pure  intentions,  has  exceeded  its 
powers,  ought  without  delay  to  apply  to  Parliament  for  an  act 
of  indemnity.  But  such  were  were  not  the  feelings  of  the 
Englishmen  of  the  fourteenth  and  fifteenth  centuries.  They 
were  little  disposed  to  contend  for  a  principle  merely  as  a 
principle,  or  to  cry  out  against  an  irregularity  which  was  not 
also  felt  to  be  a  grievance.  As  long  as  the  general  spirit  of 
the  administration  was  mild  and  popular,  they  were  willing  to 
allow  some  latitude  to  their  sovereign.  If,  for  ends  generally 
acknowledged  to  be  good,  he  exerted  a  vigour  beyond  the  law, 
they  not  only  forgave,  but  applauded  him,  and,  while  they  en- 
joyed security  and  prosperity  under  his  rule,  were  but  too  ready 
to  believe  that  whoever  had  incurred  his  displeasure  had 
deserved  it.  But  to  this  indulgence  there  was  a  limit :  nor  was 
that  King  wise  who  presumed  far  on  the  forbearance  of  the 
English  people.  They  might  sometimes  allow  him  to  overstep 
the  constitutional  line ;  but  they  also  claimed  the  privilege  of 
overstepping  that  line  themselves,  whenever  his  encroachments 
were  so  serious  as  to  excite  alarm.  If,  not  content  with 
occasionally  oppressing  individuals,  he  dared  to  oppress  great 
masses,  his  subjects  promptly  appealed  to  the  laws,  and,  that 
appeal  failing,  appealed  as  promptly  to  the  God  of  battles. 


They  might  indeed  safely  tolerate  a  king  in  a  few  excesses ; 
for  they  had  in  reserve  a  check  which  soon  brought  the  fiercest 
and  proudest  king  to  reason,  the  check  of  physical  force.  It 
is  difficult  for  an  Englishman  of  the  nineteenth  century  to 
image  to  himself  the  facility  and  rapidity  with  which,  four 
hundred  years  ago,  this  check  was  applied.  The  people  have 
long  unlearned  the  use  of  arms.  The  art  of  war  has  been 
carried  to  a  perfection  unknown  to  our  forefathers,  and  the 
knowledge  of  that  art  is  confined  to  a  particular  class.  A 
hundred  thousand  troops,  well  disciplined  and  commanded, 
will  keep  down  millions  of  ploughmen  and  artisans.  A  few 
regiments  of  household  troops  are  sufficient  to  overawe  all  the 
discontented  spirits  of  a  large  capital.  In  the  meantime  the 
effect  of  the  constant  progress  of  wealth  has  been  to  make 
insurrection  far  more  terrible  to  thinking  men  than  maladminis- 
tration. Immense  sums  have  been  expended  on  works  which, 
if  a  rebellion  broke  out,  might  perish  in  a  few  hours.  The 
mass  of  moveable  wealth  collected  in  the  shops  and  warehouses 
of  London  alone  exceeds  five-hundredfold  that  which  the  whole 
island  contained  in  the  days  of  the  Plantagenets ;  and,  if  the 
government  were  subverted  by  physical  force,  all  this  moveable 
wealth  would  be  exposed  to  imminent  risk  of  spoliation  and 
destruction.  Still  greater  would  be  the  risk  to  public  credit, 
on  which  thousands  of  families  directly  depend  for  subsistence, 
and  with  which  the  credit  of  the  whole  commercial  world  is 
inseparably  connected.  It  is  no  exaggeration  to  say  that  a 
civil  war  of  a  week  on  English  ground  would  now  produce 
disasters  which  would  be  felt  from  the  Hoangho  to  the  Missouri, 
and  of  which  the  traces  would  be  discernible  at  the  distance  of 
a  century.  In  such  a  state  of  society  resistance  must  be 
regarded  as  a  cure  more  desperate  than  almost  any  malady 
which  can  afflict  the  state.  In  the  middle  ^ges,  on  the  contrary, 
resistance  was  an  ordinary  remedy  for  political  distempers,  a 
remedy  which  was  always  at  hand,  and  which,  though  doubtless 
shairp  at  the  moment,  produced  no  deep  or  lasting  ill  effects. 
If  a  popular  chief  raised  his  standard  in  a  popular  cause,  an 
irregular  army  could  be  assembled  in  a  day.  Regular  army 
there  was  none.  Every  man  had  a  slight  tincture  of  soldier- 
ship, and  scarcely  any  man  more  than  a  slight  tincture.  The 
national  wealth  consisted  chiefly  in  flocks  and  herds,  in  the 
harvest  of  the  year,  and  in  the  simple  buildings  inhalDited  by 
the  people.  All  the  furniture,  the  stock  of  shops,  the  machin- 
ery which  could  be  found  in  the  realm  was  of  less  value  than 
the  property  which  some  single  parishes  now  contain,     Manu- 


factures  were  rude ;  credit  was  almost  unknown.  Society, 
therefore,  recovered  from  the  shock  as  soon  as  the  actual  con- 
flict was  over.  The  calamities  of  civil  war  were  confined  to  the 
slaughter  on  the  field  of  battle,  and  to  a  few  subsequent  execu- 
tions and  confiscations.  In  a  week  the  peasant  was  driving  his 
team  and  the  esquire  flying  his  hawks  over  the  field  of  Towton, 
or  of  Bosworth,  as  if  no  extraordinary  event  had  interrupted  the 
regular  course  of  human  life. 

A  hundred  and  sixty  years  have  now  elapsed  since  the 
English  people  have  by  force  subverted  a  government.  During 
the  hundred  and  sixty  years  which  preceded  the  union  of  the 
Roses,  nine  Kings  reigned  in  England.  Six  of  these  nine 
Kings  were  deposed.  Five  lost  their  lives  as  well  as  their 
crowns.  It  is  evident,  therefore,  that  any  comparison  between 
our  ancient  and  our  modern  polity  must  lead  to  most 
erroneous  conclusions,  unless  large  allowance  be  made 
for  the  effect  of  that  restraint  which  resistance  and  the  fear  of 
resistance  constantly  imposed  on  the  Plantagenets.  As  our 
ancestors  had  against  tyranny  a  most  important  security  which 
we  want,  they  might  safely  dispense  with  some  securities  to 
which  we  justly  attach  the  highest  importance.  As  we  cannot, 
without  the  risk  of  evils  from  which  the  imagination  recoils, 
employ  physical  force  as  a  check  on  misgovernment,  it  is 
evidently  our  wisdom  to  keep  all  the  constitutional  checks  on 
misgovernment  in  the  highest  state  of  efficiency,  to  watch  with 
jealousy  the  first  beginnings  of  encroachment,  and  never  to 
suffer  irregularities,  even  when  harmless  in  themselves,  to  pass 
unchallenged,  lest  they  acquire  the  force  of  precedents.  Four 
hundred  years  ago  such  minute  vigilance  might  seem  unneces- 
sary. A  nation  of  hardy  archers  and  spearmen  might,  with 
small  risk  to  its  liberties,  connive  at  some  illegal  acts  on  the 
part  of  a  prince  whose  general  administration  was  good,  and 
whose  throne  was  not  defended  by  a  single  company  of  regular 

Under  this  system,  rude  as  it  may  appear  when  compared  with 
those  elaborate  constitutions  of  which  the  last  seventy  years 
have  been  fruitful,  the  English  long  enjoyed  a  large  measure  of 
freedom  and  happiness.  Though  during  the  feeble  reign  of 
Henry  the  Sixth  the  state  was  torn  first  by  factions,  and  at 
length  by  civil  war,  though  Edward  the  Fourth  was  a  prince  of 
dissolute  and  imperious  character,  though  Richard  the  Third 
has  generally  been  represented  as  a  monster  of  depravity, 
though  the  exactions  of  Henry  the  Seventh  caused  great 
repining,  it  is  certain  that  our  ancestors,  under  those  Kings, 


were  far  better  governed  than  the  Belgians  under  PhiHp,  sur- 
named  the  Good,  or  the  French  under  that  Lewis  who  was 
styled  the  Father  of  his  people.  Even  while  the  wars  of  the 
Roses  were  actually  raging,  our  country  appears  to  have  been  in 
a  happier  condition  than  the  neighbouring  realms  during  years 
of  profound  peace.  Comines  was  one  of  the  most  enlightened 
statesmen  of  his  time.  He  had  seen  all  the  richest  and  most 
highly  civilised  parts  of  the  Continent.  He  had  lived  in  the 
opulent  towns  of  Flanders,  the  Manchesters  and  Liverpools 
of  the  fifteenth  century.  He  had  visited  Florence,  recently 
adorned  by  the  magnificence  of  Lorenzo,  and  Venice,  not  yet 
humbled  by  the  confederates  of  Cambray.  This  eminent  man 
deliberately  pronounced  England  to  be  the  best  governed 
country  of  which  he  had  any  knowledge.  Her  constitution  he 
emphatically  designated  as  a  just  and  holy  thing,  which,  while 
it  protected  the  people,  really  strengthened  the  hands  of  a 
prince  who  respected  it.  In  no  other  country,  he  said,  were 
men  so  effectually  secured  from  wrong.  The  calamities 
produced  by  our  intestine  wars  seemed  to  him  to  be  confined 
to  the  nobles  and  the  fighting  men,  and  to  leave  no  traces  such 
as  he  had  been  accustomed  to  see  elsewhere,  no  ruined 
dweUings,  no  depopulated  cities. 

It  was  not  only  by  the  efficiency  of  the  restraints  imposed  on 
the  royal  prerogative  that  England  was  advantageously 
distinguished  from  most  of  the  neighbouring  countries.  A 
peculiarity  equally  important,  though  less  noticed,  was  the 
relation  in  which  the  nobiUty  stood  here  to  the  commonalty. 
There  was  a  strong  hereditary  aristocracy  :  but  it  was  of  all 
hereditary  aristocracies  the  least  insolent  and  exclusive.  It 
had  none  of  the  invidious  character  of  a  caste.  It  was  con- 
stantly receiving  members  from  the  people  and  constantly 
sending  down  members  to  mingle  with  the  people.  Any 
gentleman  might  become  a  peer.  The  younger  son  of  a  peer 
was  but  a  gentleman.  Grandsons  of  peers  yielded  precedence 
to  newly  made  knights.  The  dignity  of  knighthood  was  not 
beyond  the  reach  of  any  man  who  could  by  diligence  and  thrift 
realise  a  good  estate,  or  who  could  attract  notice  by  his  valour 
in  a  battle  or  a  siege.  It  was  regarded  as  no  disparagement  for 
the  daughter  of  a  Duke,  nay  of  a  royal  Duke,  to  espouse  a 
distinguished  commoner.  Thus,  Sir  John  Howard  married  the 
daughter  of  Thomas  Mowbray  Duke  of  Norfolk.  Sir  Richard 
Pole  married  the  Countess  of  Salisbury,  daughter  of  George 
Duke  of  Clarence.  Good  blood  was  indeed  held  in  high 
respect ;  but  between  good  blood  and  the  privileges  of  peerage 


there  was,  most  fortunately  for  our  country,  no  necessary  con- 
nection. Pedigrees  as  long,  and  scutcheons  as  old,  were  to  be 
found  out  of  the  House  of  Lords  as  in  it.  There  were  new 
men  who  bore  the  highest  titles.  There  were  untitled  men 
well  known  to  be  descended  from  knights  who  had  broken  the 
Saxon  ranks  at  Hastings,  and  scaled  the  walls  of  Jerusalem. 
There  were  Bohuns,  Mowbrays,  De  Veres,  nay  kinsmen  of  the 
House  of  Plantagenet,  with  no  higher  addition  than  that 
of  esquire,  and  with  no  civil  privileges  beyond  those  enjoyed 
by  every  farmer  and  shopkeeper.  There  was  therefore  here  no 
line  like  that  which  in  some  other  countries  divided  the 
patrician  from  the  plebeian.  The  yeoman  was  not  inclined  to 
murmur  at  dignities  to  which  his  own  children  might  rise. 
The  grandee  was  not  inclined  to  insult  a  class  into  which  his 
own  children  must  descend. 

After  the  wars  of  York  and  Lancaster,  the  links  which  connected 
the  nobility  and  the  commonalty  became  closer  and  more 
numerous  than  ever.  The  extent  of  the  destruction  which  had 
fallen  on  the  old  aristocracy  may  be  inferred  from  a  single 
circumstance.  In  the  year  145 1  Henry  the  Sixth  summoned 
fifty-three  temporal  Lords  to  parliament.  The  temporal  Lords 
summoned  by  Henry  the  Seventh  to  the  parliament  of  1485 
were  only  twenty-nine,  and  of  these  twenty-nine  several  had 
recently  been  elevated  to  the  peerage.  During  the  following 
century  the  ranks  of  the  nobility  were  largely  recruited  from 
among  the  gentry.  The  constitution  of  the  House  of  Commons 
tended  greatly  to  promote  the  salutary  intermixture  of  classes. 
The  knight  of  the  shire  was  the  connecting  link  between  the 
baron  and  the  shopkeeper.  On  the  same  benches  on  which 
sate  the  goldsmiths,  drapers,  and  grocers  who  had  been 
returned  to  parliament  by  the  commercial  towns,  sate  also 
members  who,  in  any  other  country,  would  have  been  called 
noblemen,  hereditary  lords  of  manors,  entitled  to  hold  courts 
and  to  bear  coat  armour,  and  able  to  trace  back  an  honourable 
descent  through  many  generations.  Some  of  them  were 
younger  sons  and  brothers  of  lords.  Others  could  boast  of  even 
royal  blood.  At  length  the  eldest  son  of  an  Earl  of  Bedford, 
called  in  courtesy  by  the  second  title  of  his  father,  offered 
himself  as  candidate  for  a  seat  in  the  House  of  Commons,  and 
his  example  was  followed  by  others.  Seated  in  that  house,  the 
heirs  of  the  great  peers  naturally  became  as  zealous  for  its 
privileges  as  any  of  the  humble  burgesses  with  whom  they  were 
mingled.  Thus  our  democracy  was,  from  an  early  period,  the 
most  aristocratic,  and  our  aristocracy  the  most  democratic  in 


the  world ;  a  peculiarity  which  has  lasted  down  to  the  present 
day,  and  which  has  produced  many  important  moral  and 
political  effects. 

The  government  of  Henry  the  Seventh,  of  his  son,  and  of  his 
grandchildren  was,  on  the  whole,  more  arbitrary  than  that  of 
the  Plantagenets.  Personal  character  may  in  some  degree 
explain  the  difference;  for  courage  and  force  of  will  were 
common  to  all  the  men  and  women  of  the  House  of  Tudor. 
They  exercised  their  power  during  a  period  of  a  hundred  and 
twenty  years,  always  with  vigour,  often  with  violence,  some- 
times with  cruelty.  They,  in  imitation  of  the  dynasty  which 
had  preceded  them,  occasionally  invaded  the  rights  of  the 
subject,  occasionally  exacted  taxes  under  the  name  of  loans 
and  gifts,  and  occasionally  dispensed  with  penal  statutes  ;  nay, 
though  they  never  presumed  to  enact  any  permanent  law  by 
their  own  authority,  they  occasionally  took  upon  themselves, 
when  Parliament  was  not  sitting,  to  meet  temporary  exigencies 
by  temporary  edicts.  It  was,  however,  impossible  for  the 
Tudors  to  carry  oppression  beyond  a  certain  point :  for  they 
had  no  armed  force,  and  they  were  surrounded  by  an  armed 
people.  The  palace  was  guarded  by  a  few  domestics  whom 
the  array  of  a  single  shire,  or  of  a  single  ward  of  London,  could 
with  ease  have  overpowered.  These  haughty  princes  were 
therefore  under  a  restraint  stronger  than  any  which  mere  laws 
can  impose,  under  a  restraint  which  did  not,  indeed,  prevent 
them  from  sometimes  treating  an  individual  in  an  arbitrary  and 
even  in  a  barbarous  manner,  but  which  effectually  secured  the 
nation  against  general  and  long  continued  oppression.  They 
might  safely  be  tyrants  within  the  precinct  of  the  court :  but  it 
was  necessary  for  them  to  watch  with  constant  anxiety  the 
temper  of  the  country.  Henry  the  Eighth,  for  example, 
encountered  no  opposition  when  he  wished  to  send  Bucking- 
ham and  Surrey,  Anne  Boleyn  and  Lady  Salisbury,  to  the 
scaffold.  But  when,  without  the  consent  of  Parliament,  he 
demanded  of  his  subjects  a  contribution  amounting  to  one 
sixth  of  their  goods,  he  soon  found  it  necessary  to  retract. 
The  cry  of  hundreds  of  thousands  was  that  they  were  English 
and  not  French,  freemen  and  not  slaves.  In  Kent  the  royal 
commissioners  fled  for  their  lives.  In  Suffolk  four  thousand 
men  appeared  in  arms.  The  King's  lieutenants  in  that  county 
vainly  exerted  themselves  to  raise  an  army.  Those  who  did 
not  join  in  the  insurrection  declared  that  they  would  not  fight 
against  their  brethren  in  such  a  quarrel.  Henry,  proud  and 
selfwilled  as  he  was,  shrank,  not  without  reason,  from  a  conflict 


with  the  roused  spirit  of  the  nation.  He  had  before  his  eyes 
the  fate  of  his  predecessors  who  had  perished  at  Berkeley  and 
Pomfret.  He  not  only  cancelled  his  illegal  commissions ;  he 
not  only  granted  a  general  pardon  to  all  the  malecontents  ;  but 
he  publicly  and  solemnly  apologized  for  his  infraction  of  the 

His  conduct,  on  this  occasion,  well  illustrates  the  whole 
policy  of  his  house.  The  temper  of  the  princes  of  that  line  was 
hot,  and  their  spirit  high  :  but  they  understood  the  character 
of  the  nation  which  they  governed,  and  never  once,  like  some 
of  their  predecessors,  and  some  of  their  successors,  carried 
obstinacy  to  a  fatal  point.  The  discretion  of  the  Tudors  was 
such,  that  their  power,  though  it  was  often  resisted,  was  never 
subverted.  The  reign  of  every  one  of  them  was  disturbed  by 
formidable  discontents  :  but  the  government  never  failed  either 
to  sooth  the  mutineers,  or  to  conquer  and  punish  them. 
Sometimes,  by  timely  concessions,  it  succeeded  in  averting  civil 
hostilities  ;  but  in  general  it  stood  firm,  and  called  for  help  on 
the  nation.  The  nation  obeyed  the  call,  rallied  round  the 
sovereign,  and  enabled  him  to  quell  the  disaffected  minority. 

Thus,  from  the  age  of  Henry  the  Third  to  the  age  ot 
Elizabeth,  England  grew  and  flourished  under  a  polity  which 
contained  the  germ  of  our  present  institutions,  and  which, 
though  not  very  exactly  defined,  or  very  exactly  observed,  was 
yet  effectually  prevented  from  degenerating  into  despotism,  by 
the  awe  in  which  the  governors  stood  of  the  spirit  and  strength 
of  the  governed. 

But  such  a  polity  is  suited  only  to  a  particular  stage  in  the 
progress  of  society.  The  same  causes  which  produce  a  division 
of  labour  in  the  peaceful  arts  must  at  length  make  war  a 
distinct  science  and  a  distinct  trade.  A  time  arrives  when  the 
use  of  arms  begins  to  occupy  the  entire  attention  of  a  separate 
class.  It  soon  appears  that  peasants  and  burghers,  however 
brave,  are  unable  to  stand  their  ground  against  veteran  soldiers, 
whose  whole  life  is  a  preparation  for  the  day  of  battle,  whose 
nerves  have  been  braced  by  long  familiarity  with  danger,  and 
whose  movements  have  all  the  precision  of  clockwork.  It  is  felt 
that  the  defence  of  nations  can  no  longer  be  safely  entrusted  to 
warriors  taken  from  the  plough  or  the  loom  for  a  campaign  of 
forty  days.  If  any  state  forms  a  great  regular  army,  the  border- 
ing states  must  imitate  the  example,  or  must  submit  to  a 
foreign  yoke.  But,  where  a  great  regular  army  exists,  limited 
monarchy,  such  as  it  was  in  the  middle  ages,  can  exist  no 
longer.     The  sovereign  is  at  once  emancipated  from  what  had 



been  the  chief  restraint  on  his  power ;  and  he  inevitably 
becomes  absolute,  unless  he  is  subjected  to  checks  such  as 
would  be  superfluous  in  a  society  where  all  are  soldiers 
occasionally,  and  none  permanently. 

With  the  danger  came  also  the  means  of  escape.  In  the 
monarchies  of  the  middle  ages  the  power  of  the  sword  belonged 
to  the  prince,  but  the  power  of  the  purse  belonged  to  the  nation ; 
and  the  progress  of  civilisation,  as  it  made  the  sword  of  the  prince 
more  and  more  formidable  to  the  nation,  made  the  purse  of  the 
nation  more  and  more  necessary  to  the  prince.  His  hereditary 
revenues  would  no  longer  sufifice,  even  for  the  expenses  of  civil 
government.  It  was  utterly  impossible  that,  without  a  regular 
and  extensive  system  of  taxation,  he  could  keep  in  constant 
efficiency  a  great  body  of  disciplined  troops.  The  policy  which 
the  parliamentary  assemblies  of  Europe  ought  to  have  adopted 
was  to  take  their  stand  firmly  on  their  constitutional  right  to 
give  or  withhold  money,  and  resolutely  to  refuse  funds  for  the 
support  of  armies,  till  ample  securities  had  been  provided 
against  despotism. 

This  wise  policy  was  followed  in  our  country  alone.  In  the 
neighbouring  kingdoms  great  military  establishments  were 
formed  ;  no  new  safeguards  for  public  liberty  were  devised  ; 
and  the  consequence  was,  that  the  old  parliamentary  institutions 
everywhere  ceased  to  exist.  In  France,  where  they  had  always 
been  feeble,  they  languished,  and  at  length  died  of  mere  weak- 
ness. In  Spain,  where  they  had  been  as  strong  as  in  any  part 
of  Europe,  they  struggled  fiercely  for  life,  but  struggled  too 
late.  The  mechanics  of  Toledo  and  Valladolid  vainly 
defended  the  privileges  of  the  Castilian  Cortes  against  the 
veteran  battalions  of  Charles  the  Fifth.  As  vainly,  in  the  next 
generation,  did  the  citizens  of  Saragossa  stand  up  against  Philip 
the  Second,  for  the  old  constitution  of  Aragon.  One  after 
another,  the  great  national  councils  of  the  continental 
monarchies,  councils  once  scarcely  less  proud  and  powerful 
than  those  which  sate  at  Westminster,  sank  into  utter  in- 
significance. If  they  met,  they  met  merely  as  our  Convocation 
now  meets,  to  go  through  some  venerable  forms. 

In  England  events  took  a  different  course.  This  singular 
felicity  she  owed  chiefly  to  her  insular  situation.  Before  the 
end  of  the  fifteenth  century  great  military  establishments  were 
indispensable  to  the  dignity,  and  even  to  the  safety,  of  the 
French  and  Spanish  monarchies.  If  either  of  those  two  powers 
had  disarmed,  it  would  soon  have  been  compelled  to  submit 
to  the  dictation  of  the  other.     But  England,  protected  by  the 


sea  against  invasion,  and  rarely  engaged  in  warlike  operations 
on  the  Continent,  was  not,  as  yet,  under  the  necessity  of 
employing  regular  troops.  The  sixteenth  century,  the  seven- 
teenth century,  found  her  still  without  a  standing  army.  At 
the  commencement  of  the  seventeenth  century  political  science 
had  made  considerable  progress.  The  fate  of  the  Spanish  Cortes 
and  of  the  French  States  General,  had  given  solemn  warning 
to  our  Parliaments ;  and  our  Parliaments,  fully  aware  of  the 
nature  and  magnitude  of  the  danger,  adopted,  in  good  time, 
a  system  of  tactics  which,  after  a  contest  protracted  through 
three  generations,  was  at  length  successful. 

Almost  every  writer  who  has  treated  of  that  contest  has  been 
desirous  to  show  that  his  own  party  was  the  party  which  was 
struggling  to  preserve  the  old  constitution  unaltered.  The 
truth  however  is  that  the  old  constitution  could  not  be  preserved 
unaltered.  A  law,  beyond  the  control  of  human  wisdom,  had 
decreed  that  there  should  no  longer  be  governments  of  that 
peculiar  class  which,  in  the  fourteenth  and  fifteenth  centuries, 
had  been  common  throughout  Europe.  The  question,  there- 
fore, was  not  whether  our  polity  should  undergo  a  change,  but 
what  the  nature  of  the  change  should  be.  The  introduction 
of  a  new  and  mighty  force  had  disturbed  the  old  equilibrium, 
and  had  turned  one  limited  monarchy  after  another  into  an  abso- 
lute monarchy.  What  had  happened  elsewhere  would  assuredly 
have  happened  here,  unless  the  balance  had  been  redressed  by 
a  great  transfer  of  power  from  the  crown  to  the  parliament. 
Our  princes  were  about  to  have  at  their  command  means 
of  coercion  such  as  no  Plantagenet  or  Tudor  had  ever  possessed. 
They  must  inevitably  have  become  despots,  unless  they  had 
been,  at  the  same  time,  placed  under  restraints  to  which  no 
Plantagenet  or  Tudor  had  ever  been  subject. 

It  seems  certain,  therefore,  that,  had  none  but  political 
causes  been  at  work,  the  seventeenth  century  would  not  have 
passed  away  without  a  fierce  conflict  between  our  Kings  and 
their  Parliaments.  But  other  causes  of  perhaps  greater 
potency  contributed  to  produce  the  same  effect.  While  the 
government  of  the  Tudors  was  in  its  highest  vigour  took  place 
an  event  which  has  coloured  the  destinies  of  all  Christian 
nations,  and  in  an  especial  manner  the  destinies  of  England. 
Twice  during  the  middle  ages  the  mind  of  Europe  had  risen 
up  against  the  domination  of  Rome.  The  first  insurrection 
broke  out  in  the  south  of  France.  The  energy  of  Innocent 
the  Third,  the  zeal  of  the  young  orders  of  Francis  and  Dominic, 
and  the  ferocity  of  the  Crusaders  whom  the  priesthood  let  loose 


on  an  unwarlike  population,  crushed  the  Albigensian  churches. 
The  second  reformation  had  its  origin  in  England  and  spread 
to  Bohemia.  The  Council  of  Constance,  by  removing  some 
ecclesiastical  disorders  which  had  given  scandal  to  Christendom, 
and  the  princes  of  Europe,  by  unsparingly  using  fire  and 
sword  against  the  heretics,  succeeded  in  arresting  and  turning 
back  the  movement.  Nor  is  this  much  to  be  regretted.  The 
sympathies  of  a  Protestant,  it  is  true,  will  naturally  be  on  the 
side  of  the  Albigensians  and  of  the  Lollards.  Yet  an  en- 
lightened and  temperate  Protestant  will  perhaps  be  disposed 
to  doubt  whether  the  success,  either  of  the  Albigensians  or  of 
the  Lollards,  would,  on  the  whole,  have  promoted  the  happiness 
and  virtue  of  mankind.  Corrupt  as  the  Church  of  Rome  was, 
there  is  reason  to  believe  that,  if  that  Church  had  been  over- 
thrown in  the  twelfth  or  even  in  the  fourteenth  century,  the' 
vacant  space  would  have  been  occupied  by  some  system  more 
corrupt  still.  There  was  then,  through  the  greater  part  of 
Europe,  very  little  knowledge,  and  that  little  was  confined  to 
the  clergy.  Not  one  man  in  five  hundred  could  have  spelled 
his  way  through  a  psalm.  Books  were  few  and  costly.  The 
art  of  printing  was  unknown.  Copies  of  the  Bible,  inferior  in 
beauty  and  clearness  to  those  which  every  cottager  may  now 
command,  sold  for  prices  which  many  priests  could  not  afford 
to  give.  It  was  obviously  impossible  that  the  laity  should 
search  the  Scriptures  for  themselves.  It  is  probable  therefore, 
that,  as  soon  as  they  had  put  off  one  spiritual  yoke,  they 
would  have  put  on  another,  and  that  the  power  lately  exercised 
by  the  clergy  of  the  Church  of  Rome  would  have  passed  to  a 
far  worse  class  of  teachers.  The  sixteenth  century  was  com- 
paratively a  time  of  light.  Yet  even  in  the  sixteenth  century 
a  considerable  number  of  those  who  quitted  the  old  religion 
followed  the  first  confident  and  plausible  guide  who  offered 
himself,  and  were  soon  led  into  errors  far  more  serious  than 
those  which  they  had  renounced.  Thus  Matthias  and  Kniper- 
doling,  apostles  of  lust,  robbery,  and  murder,  were  able  for  a 
time  to  rule  great  cities.  In  a  darker  age  such  false  prophets 
might  have  founded  empires ;  and  Christianity  might  have 
been  distorted  into  a  cruel  and  licentious  superstition,  more 
noxious,  not  only  than  Popery,  but  even  than  Islamism. 

About  a  hundred  years  after  the  rising  of  the  Council  of 
Constance,  that  great  change  emphatically  called  the  Reforma- 
tion began.  The  fulness  of  time  was  now  come.  The  clergy 
were  no  longer  the  sole  or  the  chief  depositories  of  knowledge. 
The  invention  of  printing  had  furnished  the  assailants  of  the 


Church  with  a  mighty  weapon  which  had  been  wanting  to 
their  predecessors.  The  study  of  the  ancient  writers,  the 
rapid  development  of  the  powers  of  the  modern  languages,  the 
unprecedented  activity  which  was  displayed  in  every  department 
of  literature,  the  political  state  of  Europe,  the  vices  of  the 
Roman  court,  the  exactions  of  the  Roman  chancery,  the 
jealousy  with  which  the  wealth  and  privileges  of  the  clergy 
were  naturally  regarded  by  laymen,  the  jealousy  with  which 
the  Italian  ascendency  was  naturally  regarded  by  men  born  on 
our  side  of  the  Alps,  all  these  things  gave  to  the  teachers  of 
the  new  theology  an  advantage  which  they  perfectly  understood 
how  to  use. 

Those  who  hold  that  the  influence  of  the  Church  of  Rome 
in  the  dark  ages  was,  on  the  whole,  beneficial  to  mankind  may 
yet  with  perfect  consistency  regard  the  Reformation  as  an 
inestimable  blessing.  The  leading  strings,  which  preserve  and 
uphold  the  infant,  would  impede  the  full  grown  man.  And  so 
the  very  means  by  which  the  human  mind  is,  in  one  stage  of 
its  progress,  supported  and  propelled,  may,  in  another  stage, 
be  mere  hindrances.  There  is  a  point  in  the  life  both  of  an 
individual  and  of  a  society,  at  which  submission  and  faith, 
such  as  at  a  later  period  would  be  justly  called  servility  and 
credulity,  are  useful  qualities.  The  child  who  teachably  and 
undoubtingly  listens  to  the  instructions  of  his  elders  is  likely 
to  improve  rapidly.  But  the  man  who  should  receive  with 
childlike  docility  every  assertion  and  dogma  uttered  by  another 
man  no  wiser  than  himself  would  become  contemptible.  It  is 
the  same  with  communities.  The  childhood  of  the  European 
nations  was  passed  under  the  tutelage  of  the  clergy.  The 
ascendency  of  the  sacerdotal  order  was  long  the  ascendency 
which  naturally  and  properly  belongs  to  intellectual  superiority. 
The  priests,  with  all  their  faults,  were  by  far  the  wisest  portion 
of  society.  It  was,  therefore,  on  the  whole,  good  that  they 
should  be  respected  and  obeyed.  The  encroachments  of  the 
ecclesiastical  power  on  the  province  of  the  civil  power  pro- 
duced much  more  happiness  than  misery,  while  the  ecclesiastical 
power  was  in  the  hands  of  the  only  class  that  had  studied 
history,  philosophy,  and  public  law,  and  while  the  civil  power 
was  in  the  hands  of  savage  chiefs,  who  could  not  read  their 
own  grants  and  edicts.  But  a  change  took  place.  Knowledge 
gradually  spread  among  laymen.  At  the  commencement  of 
the  sixteenth  century  many  of  them  were  in  every  intellectual 
attainment  fully  equal  to  the  most  enlightened  of  their  spiritual 
pastors.     Thenceforward    that   dominion,    which,    during   the 


dark  ages,  had  been,  in  spite  of  many  abuses,  a  legitimate  and 
a  salutary  guardianship,  became  an  unjust  and  noxious  tyranny. 

From  the  time  when  the  barbarians  overran  the  Western 
Empire  to  the  time  of  the  revival  of  letters,  the  influence  of 
the  Church  of  Rome  had  been  generally  favourable  to  science, 
to  civilisation,  and  to  good  government.  But  during  the  last 
three  centuries,  to  stunt  the  growth  of  the  human  mind  has 
been  her  chief  object.  Throughout  Christendom,  whatever 
advance  has  been  made  in  knowledge,  in  freedom,  in  wealth, 
and  in  the  arts  of  life,  has  been  made  in  spite  of  her,  and  has 
everywhere  been  in  inverse  proportion  to  her  power.  The 
loveliest  and  most  fertile  provinces  of  Europe  have,  under  her 
rule,  been  sunk  in  poverty,  in  political  servitude,  and  in 
intellectual  torpor,  while  Protestant  countries,  once  proverbial 
for  sterility  and  barbarism,  have  been  turned  by  skill  and 
industry  into  gardens,  and  can  boast  of  a  long  list  of  heroes 
and  statesmen,  philosophers  and  poets.  Whoever,  knowing 
what  Italy  and  Scotland  naturally  are,  and  what,  four  hundred 
years  ago,  they  actually  were,  shall  now  compare  the  country 
round  Rome  with  the  country  round  Edinburgh,  will  be  able 
to  form  some  judgment  as  to  the  tendency  of  Papal  domination. 
The  descent  of  Spain,  once  the  first  among  monarchies,  to  the 
lowest  depths  of  degradation,  the  elevation  of  Holland,  in 
spite  of  many  natural  disadvantages,  to  a  position  such  as  no 
commonwealth  so  small  has  ever  reached,  teach  the  same 
lesson.  Whoever  passes  in  Germany  from  a  Roman  Catholic 
to  a  Protestant  principality,  in  Switzerland  from  a  Roman 
Catholic  to  a  Protestant  canton,  in  Ireland  from  a  Roman 
Catholic  to  a  Protestant  county,  finds  that  he  has  passed  from 
a  lower  to  a  higher  grade  of  civilisation.  On  the  other  side  of 
the  Atlantic  the  same  law  prevails.  The  Protestants  of  the 
United  States  have  left  far  behind  them  the  Roman  Catholics 
of  Mexico,  Peru,  and  Brazil.  The  Roman  Catholics  of  Lo'ver 
Canada  remain  inert,  while  the  whole  continent  round  them  is 
in  a  ferment  with  Protestant  activity  and  enterprise.  The 
French  have  doubtless  shown  an  energy  and  an  intelligence 
which,  even  when  misdirected,  have  justly  entitled  them  to  be 
called  a  great  people.  But  this  apparent  exception,  when 
examined,  will  be  found  to  confirm  the  rule ;  for  in  no  comitry 
that  is  called  Roman  Catholic  has  the  Roman  Catholic 
Church,  during  several  generations,  possessed  so  little  authority 
as  in  France. 

It  is  difficult  to  say  whether  England  owes  more  to  the 
Roman   Catholic  religion   or   to   the   Reformation.     For  the 


amalgamation  of  races  and  for  the  abolition  of  villenage,  she  is 
chiefly  indebted  to  the  influence  which  the  priesthood  in  the 
middle  ages  exercised  over  the  laity.  For  political  and  in- 
tellectual freedom,  and  for  all  the  blessings  which  political  and 
intellectual  freedom  have  brought  in  their  train,  she  is  chiefly 
indebted  to  the  great  rebellion  of  the  laity  against  the  priesthood. 

The  struggle  between  the  old  and  the  new  theology  in  our 
country  was  long,  and  the  event  sometimes  seemed  doubtful. 
There  were  two  extreme  parties,  prepared  to  act  with  violence 
or  to  suffer  with  stubborn  resolution.  Between  them  lay, 
during  a  considerable  time,  a  middle  party,  which  blended,  very 
illogically,  but  by  no  means  unnaturally,  lessons  learned  in  the 
nursery  with  the  sermons  of  the  modern  evangelists,  and,  while 
clinging  with  fondness  to  old  observances,  yet  detested  abuses 
with  which  those  observances  were  closely  connected.  Men  in 
such  a  frame  of  mind  were  willing  to  obey,  almost  with  thank- 
fulness, the  dictation  of  an  able  ruler  who  spared  them  the 
trouble  of  judging  for  themselves,  and,  raising  a  firm  and  com- 
manding voice  above  the  uproar  of  controversy,  told  them 
how  to  worship  and  what  to  believe.  It  is  not  strange,  there- 
fore, that  the  Tudors  should  have  been  able  to  exercise  a  great 
influence  on  ecclesiastical  affairs ;  nor  is  it  strange  that  their 
influence  should,  for  the  most  part,  have  been  exercised  with  a 
view  to  their  own  interest. 

Henry  the  Eighth  attempted  to  constitute  an  Anglican 
Church  differing  from  the  Roman  Catholic  Church  on  the 
point  of  supremacy,  and  on  that  point  alone.  His  success  in 
this  attempt  was  extraordinary.  The  force  of  his  character, 
the  singularly  favourable  situation  in  which  he  stood  with 
respect  to  foreign  powers,  the  immense  wealth  which  the 
spoliation  of  the  abbeys  placed  at  his  disposal,  and  the  support 
of  that  class  which  still  halted  between  two  opinions,  enabled 
him  to  bid  defiance  to  both  the  extreme  parties,  to  burn  as 
heretics  those  who  avowed  the  tenets  of  the  Reformers,  and  to 
hang  as  traitors  those  who  owned  the  authority  of  the  Pope. 
But  Henry's  system  died  with  him.  Had  his  life  been 
prolonged,  he  would  have  found  it  difficult  to  maintain  a 
position  assailed  with  equal  fury  by  all  who  were  zealous 
either  for  the  new  or  for  the  old  opinions.  The  ministers  who 
held  the  royal  prerogatives  in  trust  for  his  infant  son  could  not 
venture  to  persist  in  so  hazardous  a  policy  ;  nor  could  Elizabeth 
venture  to  return  to  it.  It  was  necessary  to  make  a  choice. 
The  government  must  either  submit  to  Rome,  or  must  obtain 
the    aid    of    the    Protestants.       The    government    and    the 


Protestants  had  only  one  thing  in  common,  hatred  of  the  Papal 
power.  The  English  reformers  were  eager  to  go  as  far  as  their 
brethren  on  the  Continent  They  unanimously  condemned  as 
Anti-christian  numerous  dogmas  and  practices  to  which  Henry 
had  stubbornly  adhered,  and  which  Elizabeth  reluctantly 
abandoned.  Many  felt  a  strong  regugnance  even  to  things 
indifferent  which  had  formed  part  of  the  polity  or  ritual  of  the 
mystical  Babylon.  Thus  Bishop  Hooper,  who  died  manfully 
at  Gloucester  for  his  religion,  long  refused  to  wear  the  episcopal 
vestments.  Bishop  Ridley,  a  martyr  of  still  greater  renown, 
pulled  down  the  ancient  altars  of  his  diocese,  and  ordered  the 
Eucharist  to  be  administered  in  the  middle  of  churches,  at 
tables  which  the  Papists  irreverently  termed  oyster  boards. 
Bishop  Jewel  pronounced  the  clerical  garb  to  be  a  stage  dress, 
a  fool's  coat,  a  relique  of  the  Amorites,  and  promised  that  he 
would  spare  no  labour  to  extirpate  such  degrading  absurdities. 
Archbishop  Grindal  long  hesitated  about  accepting  a  mitre  from 
dislike  of  what  he  regarded  as  the  mummery  of  consecration. 
Bishop  Parkhurst  uttered  a  fervent  prayer  that  the  Church  of 
England  would  propose  to  herself  the  Church  of  Zurich  as 
the  absolute  pattern  of  a  Christian  community.  Bishop 
Ponet  was  of  opinion  that  the  word  Bishop  should  be 
abandoned  to  the  Papists,  and  that  the  chief  officers  of  the 
purified  church  should  be  called  Superintendents.  When  it  is 
considered  that  none  of  these  prelates  belonged  to  the  extreme 
section  of  the  Protestant  party,  it  cannot  be  doubted  that,  if 
the  general  sense  of  that  party  had  been  followed,  the  work  of 
reform  would  have  been  carried  on  as  unsparingly  in  England 
as  in  Scotland. 

But,  as  the  government  needed  the  support  of  the  Protestants, 
so  the  Protestants  needed  the  protection  of  the  government. 
Much  was  therefore  given  up  on  both  sides  ;  an  union  was 
effected;  and  the  fruit  of  that  union  was  the  Church  of 

To  the  peculiarities  of  this  great  institution,  and  to  the  strong 
passions  which  it  has  called  forth  in  the  minds  both  of  friends 
and  of  enemies,  are  to  be  attributed  many  of  the  most 
important  events  which  have,  since  the  Reformation,  taken 
place  in  our  country  ;  nor  can  the  secular  history  of  England 
be  at  all  understood  by  us,  unless  we  study  it  in  constant  con- 
nection with  the  history  of  her  ecclesiastical  polity. 

The  man  who  took  the  chief  part  in  settling  the  conditions 
of  the  alliance  which  produced  the  Anglican  Church  was 
Thomas   Cranmer.      He   was   the  representative  of  both  the 


parties  which,  at  that  time,  needed  each  other's  assistance. 
He  was  at  once  a  divine  and  a  courtier.  In  his  character  of 
divine  he  was  perfectly  ready  to  go  as  far  in  the  way  of  change  as 
any  Swiss  or  Scottish  reformer.  In  his  character  of  courtier  he 
was  desirous  to  preserve  that  organization  which  had,  during 
many  ages,  admirably  served  the  purposes  of  the  Bishops  of 
Rome,  and  might  be  expected  now  to  serve  equally  well  the 
purposes  of  the  English  Kings  and  of  their  ministers.  His  tem- 
per and  his  understanding  eminently  fitted  him  to  act  as 
mediator.  Saintly  in  his  professions,  unscrupulous  in  his  deal- 
ings, zealous  for  nothing,  bold  in  speculation,  a  coward  and  a 
timeserver  in  action,  a  placable  enemy  and  a  lukewarm  friend, 
he  was  in  every  way  qualified  to  arrange  the  terms  of  the  coalition 
between  the  religious  and  the  worldly  enemies  of  Popery. 

To  this  day  the  constitution,  the  doctrines,  and  the  services 
of  the  Church,  retain  the  visible  marks  of  the  compromise 
from  which  she  sprang.  She  occupies  a  middle  position 
between  the  Churches  of  Rome  and  Geneva.  Her  doctrinal 
confessions  and  discourses,  composed  by  Protestants,  set  forth 
principles  of  theology  in  which  Calvin  or  Knox  w^ould  have 
found  scarcely  a  word  to  disapprove.  Her  prayers  and  thanks- 
givings, derived  from  the  ancient  Breviaries,  are  very  generally 
such  that  Cardinal  Fisher  or  Cardinal  Pole  might  have  heartily 
joined  in  them.  A  controversialist  who  puts  an  Arminian 
sense  on  her  Articles  and  Homilies  will  be  pronounced  by 
candid  men  to  be  as  unreasonable  as  a  controversialist  who 
denies  that  the  doctrine  of  baptismal  regeneration  can  be  dis- 
covered in  her  Liturgy. 

The  Church  of  Rome  held  that  episcopacy  was  of  divine 
institution,  and  that  certain  supernatural  graces  of  a  high  order 
had  been  transmitted  by  the  imposition  of  hands  through  fifty 
generations,  from  the  Eleven  who  received  their  commission 
on  the  Galilean  mount,  to  the  bishops  who  met  at  Trent.  A 
large  body  of  Protestants,  on  the  other  hand,  regarded  prelacy 
as  positively  unlawful,  and  persuaded  themselves  that  they 
found  a  very  different  form  of  ecclesiastical  government  pre- 
scribed in  Scripture.  The  founders  of  the  Anglican  Church 
took  a  middle  course.  They  retained  episcopacy;  but  they 
did  not  declare  it  to  be  an  institution  essential  to  the  welfare  of 
a  Christian  society,  or  to  the  efficacy  of  the  sacraments. 
Cranmer,  indeed,  on  one  important  occasion,  plainly  avowed 
his  conviction  that,  in  the  primitive  times,  there  was  no  dis- 
tinction between  bishops  and  priests,  and  that  the  laying  on  of 
hands  was  altogether  superfluous. 


Among  the  Presbyterians,  the  conduct  of  public  worship  is, 
to  a  great  extent,  left  to  the  minister.  Their  prayers,  therefore, 
are  not  exactly  the  same  in  any  two  assemblies  on  the  same 
day,  or  on  any  two  days  in  the  same  assembly.  In  one  parish 
they  are  fervent,  eloquent,  and  full  of  meaning.  In  the  next 
parish  they  may  be  languid  or  absurd.  The  priests  of  the 
Roman  Catholic  Church,  on  the  other  hand,  have,  during  many 
generations,  daily  chaunted  the  same  ancient  confessions, 
supplications,  and  thanksgivings,  in  India  and  Lithuania,  in 
Ireland  and  Peru.  The  service,  being  in  a  dead  language,  is 
intelligible  only  to  the  learned ;  and  the  great  majority  of  the 
congregation  may  be  said  to  assist  as  spectators  rather  than  as 
auditors.  Here,  again,  the  Church  of  England  took  a  middle 
course.  She  copied  the  Roman  Catholic  forms  of  prayer,  but 
translated  them  into  the  vulgar  tongue,  and  invited  the  illiterate 
multitude  to  join  its  voice  to  that  of  the  minister. 

In  every  part  of  her  system  the  same  policy  may  be  traced. 
Utterly  rejecting  the  doctrine  of  transubstantiation,  and 
condemning  as  idolatrous  all  adoration  paid  to  the  sacramental 
bread  and  wine,  she  yet,  to  the  disgust  of  the  Puritan,  required 
her  children  to  receive  the  memorials  of  divine  love,  meekly 
kneeling  upon  their  knees.  Discarding  many  rich  vestments 
which  surrounded  the  altars  of  the  ancient  faith,  she  yet 
retained,  to  the  horror  of  weak  minds,  a  robe  of  white  linen, 
typical  of  the  purity  which  belonged  to  her  as  the  mystical 
spouse  of  Christ.  Discarding  a  crowd  of  pantomimic  gestures 
which,  in  the  Roman  Catholic  worship,  are  substituted  for 
intelligible  words,  she  yet  shocked  many  rigid  Protestants  by 
marking  the  infant  just  sprinkled  from  the  font  with  the  sign  of 
the  cross.  The  Roman  Catholic  addressed  his  prayers  to  a 
multitude  of  Saints,  among  whom  were  numbered  many  men  of 
doubtful,  and  some  of  hateful,  character.  The  Puritan  refused 
the  addition  of  Saint  even  to  the  apostle  of  the  Gentiles,  and  to 
the  disciple  whom  Jesus  loved.  The  Church  of  England, 
though  she  asked  for  the  intercession  of  no  created  being,  still 
set  apart  days  for  the  commemoration  of  some  who  had  done 
and  suffered  great  things  for  the  faith.  She  retained  con- 
firmation and  ordination  as  edifying  rites ;  but  she  degraded 
them  from  the  rank  of  sacraments.  Shrift  was  no  part  of  her 
system.  Yet  she  gently  invited  the  dying  penitent  to  confess 
his  sins  to  a  divine,  and  empowered  her  ministers  to  sooth  the 
departing  soul  by  an  absolution,  which  breathes  the  very  spirit 
of  the  old  religion.  In  general  it  may  be  said,  that  she  appeals 
more  to  the  understanding,  and  less  to  the  senses   and   the 


imagination,  than  the  Church  of  Rome,  and  that  she  appeals 
less  to  the  understanding,  and  more  to  the  senses  and 
imagination,  than  the  Protestant  Churches  of  Scotland,  France, 
and  Switzerland. 

Nothing,  however,  so  strongly  distinguished  the  Church  of 
England  from  other  Churches  as  the  relation  in  which  she 
stood  to  the  monarchy.  The  King  was  her  head.  The  limits 
of  the  authority  which  he  possessed,  as  such,  were  not  traced, 
and  indeed  have  never  yet  been  traced,  with  precision.  The 
laws  which  declared  him  supreme  in  ecclesiastical  matters  were 
drawn  rudely  and  in  general  terms.  If,  for  the  purpose  of 
ascertaining  the  sense  of  those  laws,  we  examine  the  books  and 
lives  of  those  who  founded  the  English  Church,  our  perplexity 
will  be  increased.  For  the  founders  of  the  English  Church 
wrote  and  acted  in  an  age  of  violent  intellectual  fermentation, 
and  of  constant  action  and  reaction.  They  therefore  often 
contradicted  each  other,  and  sometimes  contradicted  them- 
selves. That  the  King  was,  under  Christ,  sole  head  of  the 
Church,  was  a  doctrine  which  they  all  with  one  voice  affirmed : 
but  those  words  had  very  different  significations  in  different 
mouths,  and  in  the  same  mouth  at  different  conjunctures. 
Sometimes  an  authority  which  would  have  satisfied  Hildebrand 
was  ascribed  to  the  sovereign :  then  it  dwindled  down  to  an 
authority  little  more  than  that  which  has  been  claimed  by  many 
ancient  English  princes,  who  had  been  in  constant  communion 
with  the  Church  of  Rome.  What  Henry  and  his  favourite 
councillors  meant,  at  one  time,  by  the  supremacy,  was  certainly 
nothing  less  than  the  whole  power  of  the  keys.  The  King  was 
to  be  the  Pope  of  his  kingdom,  the  vicar  of  God,  the  expositor 
of  Catholic  verity,  the  channel  of  sacramental  graces.  He 
arrogated  to  himself  the  right  of  deciding  dogmatically  what  was 
orthodox  doctrine  and  what  was  heresy,  of  drawing  up  and 
imposing  confessions  of  faith,  and  of  giving  religious  instruction 
to  his  people.  He  proclaimed  that  all  jurisdiction,  spiritual  as 
well  as  temporal,  was  derived  from  him  alone,  and  that  it  was 
in  his  power  to  confer  episcopal  authority,  and  to  take  it  away. 
He  actually  ordered  his  seal  to  be  put  to  commissions  by  which 
bishops  were  appointed,  who  were  to  exercise  their  functions 
as  his  deputies,  and  during  his  pleasure.  According  to  this 
system,  as  expounded  by  Cranmer,  the  King  was  the  spiritual 
as  well  as  the  temporal  chief  of  the  nation.  In  both  capacities 
His  Highness  must  have  lieutenants.  As  he  appointed  civil 
officers  to  keep  his  seal,  to  collect  his  revenues,  and  to  dispense 
justice  in  his  name,  so  he  appointed  divines  of  various  ranks  to 


preach  the  gospel,  and  to  administer  the  sacraments.  It  was 
unnecessary  that  there  should  be  any  imposition  of  hands.  The 
King — such  was  the  opinion  of  Cranmer  given  in  the  plainest 
words — might,  in  virtue  of  authority  derived  from  God,  make  a 
priest ;  and  the  priest  so  made  needed  no  ordination  whatever. 
These  opinions  Cranmer,  in  spite  of  the  opposition  of  less 
courtly  divines,  followed  out  to  every  legitimate  consequence. 
He  held  that  his  own  spiritual  functions,  like  the  secular 
functions  of  the  Chancellor  and  Treasurer,  were  at  once 
determined  by  a  demise  of  the  crown.  When  Henry  died, 
therefore,  the  Archbishop  and  his  suffragans  took  out  fresh 
commissions,  empowering  them  to  ordain  and  to  govern  the 
Church  till  the  new  sovereign  should  think  fit  to  order  other- 
wise. When  it  was  objected  that  a  power  to  bind  and  to  loose, 
altogether  distinct  from  temporal  power,  had  been  given  by  our 
Lord  to  his  apostles,  some  theologians  of  this  school  replied  that 
the  power  to  bind  and  to  loose  had  descended,  not  to  the 
clergy,  but  to  the  whole  body  of  Christian  men,  and  ought  to  be 
exercised  by  the  chief  magistrate,  as  the  representative  of  the 
society.  When  it  was  objected  that  Saint  Paul  had  spoken  of 
certain  persons  whom  the  Holy  Ghost  had  made  overseers  and 
shepherds  of  the  faithful,  it  was  answered  that  King  Henry  was 
the  very  overseer,  the  very  shepherd,  whom  the  Holy  Ghost 
had  appointed  and  to  whom  the  expressions  of  Saint  Paul 

These  high  pretensions  gave  scandal  to  Protestants  as  well  as 
to  Catholics ;  and  the  scandal  was  greatly  increased  when  the 
supremacy,  which  Mary  had  resigned  back  to  the  Pope,  was 
again  annexed  to  the  crown,  on  the  accession  of  Elizabeth.  It 
seemed  monstrous  that  a  woman  should  be  the  chief  bishop  of 
a  Church  in  which  an  apostle  had  forbidden  her  even  to  let  her 
voice  be  heard.  The  Queen,  therefore,  found  it  necessary 
expressly  to  disclaim  that  sacerdotal  character  which  her  father 
had  assumed,  and  which,  according  to  Cranmer,  had  been 
.  inseparably  joined,  by  divine  ordinance,  to  the  regal  function. 
When  the  Anglican  confession  of  faith  was  revised  in  her 
reign,  the  supremacy  was  explained  in  a  manner  somewhat 
different  from  that  which  had  been  fashionable  at  the  court 
of  Henry.  Cranmer  had  declared,  in  emphatic  terms,  that 
God  had  immediately  committed  to  Christian  princes  the 
whole  cure  of  all  their  subjects,  as  well  concerning  the 
administration  of  God's  word  for  the  cure  of  souls,  as  con- 

*  See  a  very  curious  paper  which  Strype  believed  to  be  in  Gardiner's 
handwriting      Ecclesiastical  Memorials,  Book  I,  Chap.  xvii. 


cerning  the  ministration  of  things  poUtical.*  The  thirty-seventh 
article  of  religion,  framed  under  Elizabeth,  declares,  in  terms  as 
emphatic,  that  the  ministering  of  God's  word  does  not  belong 
to  princes.  The  Queen,  however,  still  had  over  the  Church  a 
visitatorial  power  of  vast  and  undefined  extent.  She  was 
entrusted  by  Parliament  with  the  office  of  restraining  and 
punishing  heresy  and  every  sort  of  ecclesiastical  abuse,  and 
was  permitted  to  delegate  her  authority  to  commissioners. 
The  Bishops  were  little  more  than  her  ministers.  Rather  than 
grant  to  the  civil  magistrate  the  absolute  power  of  nominating 
spiritual  pastors,  the  Church  of  Rome,  in  the  eleventh  century, 
set  all  Europe  on  fire.  Rather  than  grant  to  the  civil 
magistrate  the  absolute  power  of  nominating  spiritual  pastors, 
the  ministers  of  the  Church  of  Scotland,  in  our  own  time, 
resigned  their  livings  by  hundreds.  The  Church  of  England 
had  no  such  scruples.  By  the  royal  authority  alone  her 
prelates  were  appointed.  By  the  royal  authority  alone  her 
Convocations  were  summoned,  regulated,  prorogued,  and 
dissolved.  Without  the  royal  sanction  her  canons  had  no 
force.  One  of  the  articles  of  her  faith  was  that  without  the 
royal  consent  no  ecclesiastical  council  could  lawfully  assemble. 
From  all  her  judicatures  an  appeal  lay,  in  the  last  resort,  to  the 
sovereign,  even  when  the  question  was  whether  an  opinion 
ought  to  be  accounted  heretical,  or  whether  the  administration 
of  a  sacrament  had  been  valid.  Nor  did  the  Church  grudge 
this  extensive  power  to  our  princes.  By  them  she  had  been 
called  into  existence,  nursed  through  a  feeble  infancy,  guarded 
from  Papists  on  one  side,  and  from  Puritans  on  the  other, 
protected  against  Parliaments  which  bore  her  no  good  will,  and 
avenged  on  literary  assailants  whom  she  found  it  hard  to 
answer.  Thus  gratitude,  hope,  fear,  common  attachments, 
common  enmities,  bound  her  to  the  throne.  All  her 
traditions,  all  her  tastes  were  monarchical.  Loyalty  became 
a  point  of  professional  honour  among  her  clergy,  the 
peculiar  badge  which  distinguished  them  at  once  from 
Calvinists  and  from  Papists.  Both  the  Calvinists  and  the 
Papists,  widely  as  they  differed  in  other  respects,  regarded  with 
extreme  jealousy  all  encroachments  of  the  temporal  power  on 
the  domain  of  the  spiritual  power.  Both  Calvinists  and  Papists 
maintained  that  subjects  might  justifiably  draw  the  sword 
against  ungodly  rulers.  In  France  Calvinists  resisted  Charles 
the  Ninth  :  Papists  resisted  Henry  the  Fourth  :  both  Papists 

*  These   are   Cranmer's   own   words.     See  the   Appendix  to  Burnet's 
History  of  the  Reformation,  Part  I.  Book  III.  No.  21.  Question  9. 


and  Calvinists  resisted  Henry  the  Third.  In  Scotland 
Calvinists  led  Mary  captive.  On  the  north  of  the  Trent 
Papists  took  arms  against  Elizabeth.  The  Church  of  England 
meantime  condemned  both  Calvinists  and  Papists,  and  loudly 
boasted  that  no  duty  was  more  constantly  or  earnestly  inculcated 
by  her  than  that  of  submission  to  princes. 

The  advantages  which  the  crown  derived  from  this  close 
alliance  with  the  Established  Church  were  great ;  but  they 
were  not  without  serious  drawbacks.  The  compromise  arranged 
by  Cranmer  had  from  the  first  been  considered  by  a  large  body 
of  Protestants  as  a  scheme  for  serving  two  masters,  as  an 
attempt  to  unite  the  worship  of  the  Lord  with  the  worship  of 
Baal.  In  the  days  of  Edward  the  Sixth  the  scruples  of  this 
party  had  repeatedly  thrown  great  difficulties  in  the  way  of  the 
government.  When  Elizabeth  came  to  the  throne,  these 
difficulties  were  much  increased.  Violence  naturally  engenders 
violence.  The  spirit  of  Protestantism  was  therefore  far  fiercer 
and  more  intolerant  after  the  cruelties  of  Mary  than  before 
them.  Many  persons  who  were  warmly  attached  to  the  new 
opinions  had,  during  the  evil  days,  taken  refuge  in  Switzerland 
and  Germany.  They  had  been  hospitably  received  by  their 
brethren  in  the  faith,  had  sate  at  the  feet  of  the  great  doctors 
of  Strasburg,  Zurich,  and  Geneva,  and  had  been,  during  some 
years,  accustomed  to  a  more  simple  worship,  and  to  a  more 
democratical  form  of  church  government  than  England  had  yet 
seen.  These  men  returned  to  their  country,  convinced  that 
the  reform  which  had  been  effected  under  King  Edward  had 
been  far  less  searching  and  extensive  than  the  interests  of  pure 
religion  required.  But  it  was  in  vain  that  they  attempted  to 
obtain  any  concession  from  Elizabeth.  Indeed  her  system, 
wherever  it  differed  from  her  brother's,  seemed  to  them  to  differ 
for  the  worse.  They  were  little  disposed  to  submit,  in  matters 
of  faith,  to  any  human  authority.  They  had  recently,  in 
reliance  on  their  own  interpretation  of  Scripture,  risen  up  against 
a  Church  strong  in  immemorial  antiquity  and  catholic  consent. 
It  was  by  no  common  exertion  of  intellectual  energy  that  they 
had  thrown  off  the  yoke  of  that  gorgeous  and  imperial 
superstition ;  and  it  was  vain  to  expect  that,  immediately 
after  such  an  emancipation,  they  would  patiently  submit  to  a 
new  spiritual  tyranny.  Long  accustomed,  when  the  priest 
lifted  up  the  host,  to  bow  down  with  their  faces  to  the  earth, 
as  before  a  present  God,  they  had  learned  to  treat  the  mass  as 
an  idolatrous  mummery.  Long  accustomed  to  regard  the 
Pope  as  the  successor  of  the  chief  of  the  apostles,  as  the  bearer 


of  the  keys  of  earth  and  heaven,  they  had  learned  to  regard 
him  as  the  Beast,  the  Antichrist,  the  Man  of  Sin.  It  was  not 
to  be  expected  that  they  would  immediately  transfer  to  an 
upstart  authority  the  homage  which  they  had  withdrawn  from 
the  Vatican ;  that  they  would  submit  their  private  judgment  to 
the  authority  of  a  Church  founded  on  private  judgment  alone  ; 
that  they  would  be  afraid  to  dissent  from  teachers  who 
themselves  dissented  from  what  had  lately  been  the  universal 
faith  of  western  Christendom.  It  is  easy  to  conceive  the 
indignation  which  must  have  been  felt  by  bold  and  inquisitive 
spirits,  glorying  in  newly  acquired  freedom,  when  an  institution 
younger  by  many  years  than  themselves,  an  institution  which 
had,  under  their  own  eyes,  gradually  received  its  form  from  the 
passions  and  interests  of  a  court,  began  to  mimic  the  lofty 
style  of  Rome. 

Since  these  men  could  not  be  convinced,  it  was  determined 
that  they  should  be  persecuted.  Persecution  produced  its 
natural  effects  on  them.  It  found  them  a  sect :  it  made  them 
a  faction.  To  their  hatred  of  the  Church  was  now  added 
hatred  of  the  crown.  The  two  sentiments  were  intermingled  ; 
and  each  embittered  the  other.  The  opinions  of  the  Puritan 
concerning  the  relation  of  ruler  and  subject  were  widely 
different  from  those  which  were  inculcated  in  the  Homilies. 
His  favourite  divines  had,  both  by  precept  and  by  example, 
encouraged  resistance  to  tyrants  and  persecutors.  His  fellow 
Calvinists  in  France,  in  Holland,  and  in  Scotland,  were  in 
arms  against  idolatrous  and  cruel  princes.  His  notions,  too, 
respecting  the  government  of  the  state  took  a  tinge  from  his 
notions  respecting  the  government  of  the  Church.  Some  of 
the  sarcasms  which  were  popularly  thrown  on  episcopacy  might, 
without  much  difficulty,  be  turned  against  royalty ;  and  many 
of  the  arguments  which  were  used  to  prove  that  spiritual  power 
was  best  lodged  in  a  synod  seemed  to  lead  to  the  conclusion 
that  temporal  power  was  best  lodged  in  a  parliament. 

Thus,  as  the  priest  of  the  Established  Church  was,  from 
interest,  from  principle,  and  from  passion,  zealous  for  the 
royal  prerogatives,  the  Puritan  was,  from  interest,  from 
principle,  and  from  passion,  hostile  to  them.  The  power 
of  the  discontented  sectaries  was  great.  They  were  found 
in  every  rank ;  but  they  were  strongest  among  the 
mercantile  classes  in  the  towns,  and  among  the  small  proprie- 
tors in  the  country.  Early  in  the  reign  of  Elizabeth  they  began 
to  return  a  majority  of  the  House  of  Commons.  And  doubt- 
less, had  our  ancestors  been  then  at  liberty  to  fix  their  attention 


entirely  on  domestic  questions,  the  strife  between  the  crown 
and  the  Parliament  would  instantly  have  commenced.  But 
that  was  no  season  for  internal  dissensions.  It  might,  indeed, 
well  be  doubted,  whether  the  firmest  union  among  all  the 
orders  of  the  state  could  avert  the  common  danger  by  which 
all  were  threatened.  Roman  Catholic  Europe  and  reformed 
Europe  were  struggling  for  death  or  life.  France,  divided 
against  herself,  had,  for  a  time,  ceased  to  be  of  any  account  in 
Christendom.  The  English  Government  was  at  the  head  of 
the  Protestant  interest,  and,  while  persecuting  Presbyterians  at 
home,  extended  a  powerful  protection  to  Presbyterian  Churches 
abroad.  At  the  head  of  the  opposite  party  was  the  mightiest 
prince  of  the  age,  a  prince  who  ruled  Spain,  Portugal,  Italy, 
the  Netherlands,  the  East  and  the  West  Indies,  whose  armies 
repeatedly  marched  to  Paris,  and  whose  fleets  kept  the  coasts 
of  Devonshire  and  Sussex  in  alarm.  It  long  seemed  probable 
that  Englishmen  would  have  to  fight  desperately  on  English 
ground  for  their  religion  and  independence.  Nor  were  they 
ever  for  a  moment  free  from  apprehensions  of  some  great 
treason  at  home.  For  in  that  age  it  had  become  a  point  of 
conscience  and  of  honour  with  many  men  of  generous  natures 
to  sacrifice  their  country  to  their  religion.  A  succession  of 
dark  plots,  formed  by  Roman  Catholics  against  the  life  of  the 
Queen  and  the  existence  of  the  nation,  kept  society  in  constant 
alarm.  Whatever  might  be  the  faults  of  Elizabeth,  it  was  plain 
that,  to  speak  humanly,  the  fate  of  the  realm  and  of  all  reformed 
Churches  was  staked  on  the  security  of  her  person  and  on  the 
success  of  her  administration.  To  strengthen  her  hands  was, 
therefore,  the  first  duty  of  a  patriot  and  a  Protestant ;  and  that 
duty  was  well  performed.  The  Puritans,  even  in  the  depths  of 
the  prisons  to  which  she  had  sent  them,  prayed,  and  with  no 
simulated  fervour,  that  she  might  be  kept  from  the  dagger  of 
the  assassin,  that  rebellion  might  be  put  down  under  her  feet, 
and  that  her  arms  might  be  victorious  by  sea  and  land.  One 
of  the  most  stubborn  of  the  stubborn  sect,  immediately  after 
his  hand  had  been  lopped  off  for  an  offence  into  which  he  had 
been  hurried  by  his  intemperate  zeal,  waved  his  hat  with  the 
hand  which  was  still  left  him,  and  shouted  "God  save  the 
Queen  ! "  The  sentiment  with  which  these  men  regarded  her 
has  descended  to  their  posterity.  The  Nonconformists,  rigor- 
ously as  she  treated  them,  have,  as  a  body,  always  venerated 
her  memory.* 

*  The  Puritan  historian,  Neal,  after  censuring  the  cruelty  with  which  she 
treated  the  sect  to  which  he  belonged,  concludes  thus  :   "  However,  not-. 


During  the  greater  part  of  her  reign,  therefore,  the  Puritans 
in  the  House  of  Commons,  though  sometimes  mutinous,  felt 
no  disposition  to  array  themselves  in  systematic  opposition  to 
the  government.  But,  when  the  defeat  of  the  Armada,  the 
successful  resistance  of  the  United  Provinces  to  the  Spanish 
power,  the  firm  establishment  of  Henry  the  Fourth  on  the 
throne  of  France,  and  the  death  of  Philip  the  Second,  had 
secured  the  State  and  the  Church  against  all  danger  from 
abroad,  an  obstinate  struggle,  destined  to  last  during  several 
generations,  instantly  began  at  home. 

It  was  in  the  Parliament  of  1601  that  the  opposition  which 
had,  during  forty  years,  been  silently  gathering  and  husbanding 
strength,  fought  its  first  great  battle  and  won  its  first  victory. 
The  ground  was  well  chosen.  The  English  sovereigns  had 
always  been  entrusted  with  the  supreme  direction  of  commer- 
cial police.  It  was  their  undoubted  prerogative  to  regulate 
coin,  weights,  and  measures,  and  to  appoint  fairs,  markets,  and 
ports.  The  line  which  bounded  their  authority  over  trade  had, 
as  usual,  been  but  loosely  drawn.  They  therefore,  as  usual, 
encroached  on  the  province  which  rightfully  belonged  to  the 
legislature.  The  encroachment  was  as  usual,  patiently  borne, 
till  it  became  serious.  But  at  length  the  Queen  took  upon 
herself  to  grant  patents  of  monopoly  by  scores.  There  was 
scarcely  a  family  in  the  realm  which  did  not  feel  itself  aggrieved 
by  the  oppression  and  extortion  which  this  abuse  naturally 
caused.  Iron,  oil,  vinegar,  coal,  saltpetre,  lead,  starch,  yarn, 
skins,  leather,  glass,  could  be  bought  only  at  exorbitant  prices. 
The  House  of  Commons  met  in  an  angry  and  determined 
mood.  It  was  in  vain  that  a  courtly  minority  blamed  the 
Speaker  for  suffering  the  acts  of  the  Queen's  Highness  to  be 
called  in  question.  The  language  of  the  discontented  party 
was  high  and  menacing,  and  was  echoed  by  the  voice  of  the 
whole  nation.  The  coach  of  the  chief  minister  of  the  crown 
was  surrounded  by  an  indignant  populace,  who  cursed  the 
monopolies,  and  exclaimed  that  the  prerogative  should  not  be 
suffered  to  touch  the  old  liberties  of  England.  There  seemed 
for  a  moment  to  be  some  danger  that  the  long  and  glorious 

withstanding  all  these  blemishes,  Queen  Elizabeth  stands  upon  record  as  a 
wise  and  politic  princess,  for  delivering  her  kingdom  from  the  difficulties 
in  which  it  was  involved  at  her  accession,  for  preserving  the  Protestant 
reformation  against  the  potent  attempts  of  the  Pope,  the  Emperor,  and 
King  of  Spain  abroad,  and  the  Queen  of  Scots  and  her  Popish  subjects  at 
home.  ,  .  .  She  was  the  glory  of  the  age  in  which  she  lived,  and  will  be 
the  admiration  of  posterity. " — History  of  the  Puritans,  Part  I.  Chap.  viii. 


reign  of  Elizabeth  would  have  a  shameful  and  disastrous  end. 
She,  however,  with  admirable  judgment  and  temper,  declined 
the  contest,  put  herself  at  the  head  of  the  relorming  party, 
redressed  the  grievance,  thanked  the  Commons,  in  touching 
and  dignified  language,  for  their  tender  care  of  the  general 
weal,  brought  back  to  herself  the  hearts  of  the  people,  and  left 
to  her  successors  a  memorable  example  of  the  way  in  which  it 
behoves  a  ruler  to  deal  with  public  movements  which  he  has 
not  the  means  of  resisting. 

In  the  year  1603  the  great  Queen  died.  That  year  is,  on 
many  accounts,  one  of  the  most  important  epochs  in  our  history. 
It  was  then  that  both  Scotland  and  Ireland  became  parts  of 
the  same  empire  with  England.  Both  Scotland  and  Ireland, 
indeed,  had  been  subjugated  by  the  Plantagenets ;  but  neither 
country  had  been  patient  under  the  yoke.  Scotland  had,  with 
heroic  energy,  vindicated  her  independence,  had,  from  the 
time  of  Robert  Bruce,  been  a  separate  kingdom,  and  was  now 
joined  to  the  southern  part  of  the  island  in  a  manner  which 
rather  gratified  than  wounded  her  national  pride.  Ireland 
had  never,  since  the  days  of  Henry  the  Second,  been  able  to 
expel  the  foreign  invaders;  but  she  had  struggled  against 
them  long  and  fiercely.  During  the  fourteenth  and  fifteenth 
centuries  the  English  power  in  that  island  was  constantly 
declining,  and,  in  the  days  of  Henry  the  Seventh,  had  sunk  to 
the  lowest  point.  The  Irish  dominions  of  that  prince  consisted 
only  of  the  counties  of  Dublin  and  Louth,  of  some  parts  of 
Meath  and  Kildare,  and  of  a  few  seaports  scattered  along  the 
coast.  A  large  portion  even  of  Leinster  was  not  yet  divided 
into  counties.  Munster,  Ulster,  and  Connaught  were  ruled  by 
petty  sovereigns,  partly  Celts,  and  partly  degenerate  Normans, 
who  had  forgotten  their  origin  and  had  adopted  the  Celtic 
language  and  manners.  But,  during  the  sixteenth  century, 
the  English  power  had  made  great  progress.  The  half  savage 
chieftains  who  reigned  beyond  the  pale  had  yielded  one  after 
another  to  the  lieutenants  of  the  Tudors.  At  length,  a  few 
weeks  before  the  death  of  Elizabeth,  the  conquest,  which  had 
been  begun  more  than  four  hundred  years  before  by  Strongbow, 
was  completed  by  Mountjoy.  Scarcely  had  James  the  First 
mounted  the  English  throne  when  the  last  O'Donnell  and 
O'Neill  who  have  held  the  rank  of  independent  princes  kissed 
his  hand  at  Whitehall.  Thenceforward  his  writs  ran  and  his 
judges  held  assizes  in  every  part  of  Ireland ;  and  the  English 
law  superseded  the  customs  which  had  prevailed  among  the 
aboriginal  tribes. 


In  extent  Scotland  and  Ireland  were  nearly  equal  to  each 
other,  and  were  together  nearly  equal  to  England,  but  were 
much  less  thickly  peopled  than  England,  and  were  very  far 
behind  England  in  wealth  and  civilisation.  Scotland  had 
been  kept  back  by  the  sterility  of  her  soil ;  and,  in  the  midst 
of  light,  the  thick  darkness  of  the  middle  ages  still  rested  on 

The  population  of  Scotland,  with  the  exception  of  the 
Celtic  tribes  which  were  thinly  scattered  over  the  Hebrides 
and  over  the  mountainous  parts  of  the  northern  shires,  was  of 
the  same  blood  with  the  population  of  England,  and  spoke  a 
tongue  which  did  not  differ  from  the  purest  Enghsh  more  than 
the  dialects  of  Somersetshire  and  Lancashire  differed  from 
each  other.  In  Ireland,  on  the  contrary,  the  population,  with 
the  exception  of  the  small  English  colony  near  the  coast,  was 
Celtic,  and  still  kept  the  Celtic  speech  and  manners. 

In  natural  courage  and  intelligence  both  the  nations  which 
now  became  connected  with  England  ranked  high.  In  perse- 
verance, in  selfcommand,  in  forethought,  in  all  the  virtues 
which  conduce  to  success  in  life,  the  Scots  have  never  been 
surpassed.  The  Irish,  on  the  other  hand,  were  distinguished 
by  qualities  which  tend  to  make  men  interesting  rather  than 
prosperous.  They  were  an  ardent  and  impetuous  race,  easily 
moved  to  tears  or  to  laughter,  to  fury  or  to  love.  Alone 
among  the  nations  of  northern  Europe  they  had  the  suscepti- 
bility, the  vivacity,  the  natural  turn  for  acting  and  rhetoric, 
which  are  indigenous  on  the  shores  of  the  Mediterranean  Sea. 
In  mental  cultivation  Scotland  had  an  indisputable  superiority. 
Though  that  kingdom  was  then  the  poorest  in  Christendom, 
it  already  vied  in  every  branch  of  learning  with  the  most 
favoured  countries.  Scotsmen,  whose  dwellings  and  whose 
food  were  as  wretched  as  those  of  the  Icelanders  of  our  time, 
wrote  Latin  verse  with  more  than  the  delicacy  of  Vida,  and 
made  discoveries  in  science  which  would  have  added  to  the 
renown  of  Galileo.  Ireland  could  boast  of  no  Buchanan  or 
Napier.  The  genius,  with  which  her  aboriginal  inhabitants 
were  largely  endowed,  showed  itself  as  yet  only  in  ballads 
which,  wild  and  rugged  as  they  were,  seemed  to  the  judging 
eye  of  Spenser  to  contain  a  portion  of  the  pure  gold  of 

Scotland,  in  becoming  part  of  the  British  monarchy,  pre- 
served all  her  dignity.  Having,  during  many  generations, 
courageously  withstood  the  English  arms,  she  was  now  joined 
to  her  stronger  neighbour  on  the  most  honourable  terms.     She 


gave  a  King  instead  of  receiving  one.  She  retained  her  own 
constitution  and  laws.  Her  tribunals  and  parliaments 
remained  entirely  independent  of  the  tribunals  and  parliaments 
which  sate  at  Westminster.  The  administration  of  Scotland 
was  in  Scottish  hands ;  for  no  Englishman  had  any  motive  to 
emigrate  northward,  and  to  contend  with  the  shrewdest  and 
most  pertinacious  of  all  races  for  what  was  to  be  scraped 
together  in  the  poorest  of  all  treasuries.  Meanwhile  Scottish 
adventurers  poured  southward,  and  obtained  in  all  the  walks 
of  life  a  prosperity  which  excited  much  envy,  but  which  was 
in  general  only  the  just  reward  of  prudence  and  industry. 
Nevertheless  Scotland  by  no  means  escaped  the  fate  ordained 
for  every  country  which  is  connected,  but  not  incorporated, 
with  another  country  of  greater  resources.  Though  in  name 
an  independent  kingdom,  she  was,  during  more  than  a 
century,  really  treated,  in  many  respects,  as  a  subject 

Ireland  was  undisguisedly  governed  as  a  dependency  won 
by  the  sword.  Her  rude  national  institutions  had  perished. 
The  English  colonists  submitted  to  the  dictation  of  the  mother 
country,  without  whose  support  they  could  not  exist,  and 
indemnified  themselves  by  trampling  on  the  people  among 
whom  they  had  settled.  The  parliaments  which  met  at 
Dublin  could  pass  no  law  which  had  not  previously  been 
approved  by  the  English  Privy  Council.  The  authority  of  the 
English  legislature  extended  over  Ireland.  The  executive 
administration  was  intrusted  to  men  taken  either  from 
England  or  from  the  English  pale,  and,  in  either  case, 
regarded  as  foreigners,  and  even  as  enemies,  by  the  Celtic 

But  the  circumstance  which,  more  than  any  other,  has 
made  Ireland  to  differ  from  Scotland  remains  to  be  noticed. 
Scotland  was  Protestant.  In  no  part  of  Europe  had  the 
movement  of  the  popular  mind  against  the  Roman  Catholic 
Church  been  so  rapid  and  violent.  The  reformers  had 
vanquished,  deposed,  and  imprisoned  their  idolatrous  sove- 
reign. They  would  not  endure  even  such  a  compromise  as 
had  been  effected  in  England.  They  had  established  the 
Calvinistic  doctrine,  discipline,  and  worship ;  and  they  made 
little  distinction  between  Popery  and  Prelacy,  between  the 
Mass  and  the  Book  of  Common  Prayer.  Unfortunately  for 
Scotland,  the  prince  whom  she  sent  to  govern  a  fairer  inherit- 
ance had  been  so  much  annoyed  by  the  pertinacity  with 
which  her  theologians  had  asserted  against  him  the  privileges 


of  the  synod  and  the  pulpit  that  he  hated  the  ecclesiastical 
polity  to  which  she  was  fondly  attached  as  much  as  it  was  in 
his  effeminate  nature  to  hate  anything,  and  had  no  sooner 
mounted  the  English  throne  than  he  began  to  show  an 
intolerant  zeal  for  the  government  and  ritual  of  the  English 

The  Irish  were  the  only  people  of  northern  Europe  who 
had  remained  true  to  the  old  religion.  This  is  to  be  partly 
ascribed  to  the  circumstance  that  they  were  some  centuries 
behind  their  neighbours  in  knowledge.  But  other  causes  had 
cooperated.  The  Reformation  had  been  a  national  as  well 
as  a  moral  revolt.  It  had  been,  not  only  an  insurrection  of 
the  laity  against  the  clergy,  but  also  an  insurrection  of  all 
the  branches  of  the  great  German  race  against  an  alien 
domination.  It  is  a  most  significant  circumstance  that  no 
large  society  of  which  the  tongue  is  not  Teutonic  has  ever 
turned  Protestant,  and  that,  wherever  a  language  derived  from 
that  of  ancient  Rome  is  spoken,  the  religion  of  modern  Rome 
to  this  day  prevails.  The  patriotism  of  the  Irish  had  taken 
a  peculiar  direction.  The  object  of  their  animosity  was  not 
Rome,  but  England;  and  they  had  especial  reason  to  abhor 
those  English  sovereigns  who  had  been  the  chiefs  of  the  great 
schism,  Henry  the  Eighth  and  Elizabeth.  During  the  vain 
struggle  which  two  generations  of  Milesian  princes  maintained 
against  the  Tudors,  religious  enthusiasm  and  national  en- 
thusiasm became  inseparably  blended  in  the  minds  of  the 
vanquished  race.  The  new  feud  of  Protestant  and  Papist 
inflamed  the  old  feud  of  Saxon  and  Celt.  The  English 
conquerors,  meanwhile,  neglected  all  legitimate  means  of 
conversion.  No  care  was  taken  to  provide  the  vanquished 
nation  with  instructors  capable  of  making  themselves  under- 
stood. No  translation  of  the  Bible  was  put  forth  in  the 
Erse  language.  The  government  contented  itself  with 
setting  up  a  vast  hierarchy  of  Protestant  archbishops,  bishops, 
and  rectors,  who  did  nothing,  and  who,  for  doing  nothing, 
were  paid  out  of  the  spoils  of  a  Church  loved  and  revered 
by  the  great  body  of  the  people. 

There  was  much  in  the  state  both  of  Scotland  and  of 
Ireland  which  might  well  excite  the  painful  apprehensions  of 
a  farsighted  statesman.  As  yet,  however,  there  was  the 
appearance  of  tranquillity.  For  the  first  time  all  the  British 
isles  were  peaceably  united  under  one  sceptre. 

It  should  seem  that  the  weight  of  England  among  European 
nations   ought,    from  this  epoch,   to  have  greatly   increased. 


The  territory  which  her  new  King  governed  was,  in  extent, 
nearly  double  that  which  Elizabeth  had  inherited.  His 
empire  was  also  the  most  complete  within  itself  and  the  most 
secure  from  attack  that  was  to  be  found  in  the  world.  The 
Plantagenets  and  Tudors  had  been  repeatedly  under  the 
necessity  of  defending  themselves  against  Scotland  while  they 
were  engaged  in  continental  war.  The  long  conflict  in 
Ireland  had  been  a  severe  and  perpetual  drain  on  their 
resources.  Yet  even  under  such  disadvantages  those 
sovereigns  had  been  highly  considered  throughout  Christen- 
dom. It  might,  therefore,  not  unreasonably  be  expected  that 
England,  Scotland  and  Ireland  combined  would  form  a  state 
second  to  none  that  then  existed. 

All  such  expectations  were  strangely  disappointed.  On  the 
day  of  the  accession  of  James  the  First  our  country  descended 
from  the  rank  which  she  had  hitherto  held,  and  began  to  be 
regarded  as  a  power  hardly  of  the  second  order.  During 
many  years  the  great  British  monarchy,  under  four  successive 
princes  of  the  House  of  Stuart,  was  scarcely  a  more  important 
member  of  the  European  system  than  the  little  kingdom  of 
Scotland  had  previously  been.  This,  however,  is  little  to  be 
regretted.  Of  James  the  First,  as  of  John,  it  may  be  said 
that,  if  his  administration  had  been  able  and  splendid,  it 
would  probably  have  been  fatal  to  our  country,  and  that  we 
owe  more  to  his  weakness  and  meanness  than  to  the  wisdom 
and  courage  of  much  better  sovereigns.  He  came  to  the 
throne  at  a  critical  moment.  The  time  was  fast  approaching 
when  either  the  King  must  become  absolute,  or  the  Parliament 
must  control  the  whole  executive  administration.  Had  James 
been,  like  Henry  the  Fourth,  like  Maurice  of  Nassau,  or  like 
Gustavus  Adolphus,  a  valiant,  active,  and  politic  ruler,  had 
he  put  himself  at  the  head  of  the  Protestants  of  Europe,  had 
he  gained  great  victories  over  Tilly  and  Spinola,  had  he 
adorned  Westminster  with  the  spoils  of  Bavarian  monasteries 
and  Flemish  cathedrals,  had  he  hung  Austrian  and  Castilian 
banners  in  St.  Paul's,  and  had  he  found  himself,  after  great 
achievements,  at  the  head  of  fifty  thousand  troops,  brave, 
well  disciplined,  and  devotedly  attached  to  his  person,  the 
English  Parliament  would  soon  have  been  nothing  more  than 
a  name.  Happily  he  was  not  a  man  to  play  such  a  part.  He 
began  his  administration  by  putting  an  end  to  the  war  which 
had  raged  during  many  years  betw^een  England  and  Spain ; 
and  from  that  time  he  shunned  hostilities  with  a  caution 
which  was  proof  against   the  insults  of  his  neighbours  and 


the  clamours  of  his  subjects.  Not  till  the  last  year  of  his  life 
could  the  influence  of  his  son,  his  favourite,  his  Parliament 
and  his  people  combined,  induce  him  to  strike  one  feeble 
blow  in  defence  of  his  family  and  of  his  religion.  It  was  well 
for  those  whom  he  governed,  that  he  in  this  matter  disregarded 
their  wishes.  The  effect  of  his  pacific  policy  was  that,  in  his 
time,  no  regular  troops  were  needed,  and  that,  while  France, 
Spain,  Italy,  Belgium,  and  Germany  swarmed  with  mercenary 
soldiers,  the  defence  of  our  island  was  still  confided  to  the 

As  the  King  had  no  standing  army,  and  did  not  even 
attempt  to  form  one,  it  would  have  been  wise  in  him  to  avoid 
any  conflict  with  his  people.  But  such  was  his  indiscretion 
that,  while  he  altogether  neglected  the  means  which  alone 
could  make  him  really  absolute,  he  constantly  put  forward,  in 
the  most  offensive  form,  claims  of  which  none  of  his  prede- 
cessors had  ever  dreamed.  It  was  at  this  time  that  those 
strange  theories  which  Filmer  afterwards  formed  into  a  system, 
and  which  became  the  badge  of  the  most  violent  class  of 
Tories  and  high  churchmen,  first  emerged  into  notice.  It 
was  gravely  maintained  that  the  Supreme  Being  regarded 
hereditary  monarchy,  as  opposed  to  other  forms  of  government, 
with  peculiar  favour ;  that  the  rule  of  succession  in  order  of 
primogeniture  was  a  divine  institution,  anterior  to  the  Christian, 
and  even  to  the  Mosaic  dispensation ;  that  no  human  power, 
not  even  that  of  the  whole  legislature,  no  length  of  adverse 
possession,  though  it  extended  to  ten  centuries,  could  deprive 
the  legitimate  prince  of  his  rights ;  that  his  authority  was 
necessarily  always  despotic ;  that  the  laws  by  which,  in 
England  and  in  other  countries,  the  prerogative  was  Hmited 
were  to  be  regarded  merely  as  concessions  which  the  sovereign 
had  freely  made  and  might  at  his  pleasure  resume ;  and  that 
any  treaty  into  which  a  king  might  enter  with  his  people  was 
merely  a  declaration  of  his  present  intentions,  and  not  a 
contract  of  which  the  performance  could  be  demanded.  It 
is  evident  that  this  theory,  though  intended  to  strengthen  the 
foundations  of  government,  altogether  unsettles  them.  Did 
the  divine  and  immutable  law  of  primogeniture  admit  females, 
or  exclude  them  ?  On  either  supposition  half  the  sovereigns 
of  Europe  must  be  usurpers,  reigning  in  defiance  of  the 
commands  of  heaven,  and  liable  to  be  dispossessed  by  the 
rightful  heirs.  These  absurd  doctrines  received  no  counten- 
ance from  the  Old  Testament ;  for  in  the  Old  Testament  we 
read  that  the  chosen  people  were  blamed  and  punished  for 


desiring  a  king,  and  that  they  were  afterwards  commanded  to 
withdraw  their  allegiance  from  him.  Their  whole  history,  far 
from  favouring  the  notion  that  primogeniture  is  of  divine 
institution,  would  rather  seem  to  indicate  that  younger  brothers 
are  under  the  especial  protection  of  heaven.  Isaac  was  not 
the  eldest  son  of  Abraham,  nor  Jacob  of  Isaac,  nor  Judah  of 
Jacob,  nor  David  of  Jesse,  nor  Solomon  of  David.  Indeed 
the  order  of  seniority  among  children  is  seldom  strictly 
regarded  in  countries  where  polygamy  is  practised.  Nor  did 
the  system  of  Filmer  receive  any  countenance  from  those 
passages  of  the  New  Testament  which  describe  government 
as  an  ordinance  of  God  :  for  the  government  under  which  the 
writers  of  the  New  Testament  lived  was  not  a  hereditary 
monarchy.  The  Roman  Emperors  were  republican  magistrates, 
named  by  the  Senate.  None  of  them  pretended  to  rule  by 
right  of  birth ;  and,  in  fact,  both  Tiberius,  to  whom  Christ 
commanded  that  tribute  should  be  given,  and  Nero,  whom 
Paul  directed  the  Romans  to  obey,  were,  according  to  the 
patriarchal  theory  of  government,  usurpers.  In  the  middle 
ages  the  doctrine  of  indefeasible  hereditary  right  would  have 
been  regarded  as  heretical .  for  it  was  altogether  incompatible 
with  the  high  pretensions  of  the  Church  of  Rome.  It  was 
a  doctrine  unknown  to  the  founders  of  the  Church  of  England. 
The  Homily  on  Wilful  Rebellion  had  strongly,  and  indeed  too 
strongly,  inculcated  submission  to  constituted  authority,  but 
had  made  no  distinction  between  hereditary  and  elective 
monarchies,  or  between  monarchies  and  republics.  Indeed 
most  of  the  predecessors  of  James  would,  from  personal 
motives,  have  regarded  the  patriarchal  theory  of  government 
with  aversion.  William  Rufus,  Henry  the  First,  Stephen, 
John,  Henry  the  Fourth,  Henry  the  Fifth,  Henry  the  Sixth, 
Richard  the  Third,  and  Henry  the  Seventh,  had  all  reigned  in 
defiance  of  the  strict  rule  of  descent.  A  grave  doubt  hung 
over  the  legitimacy  both  of  Mary  and  of  Elizabeth.  It  was 
impossible  that  both  Catharine  of  Aragon  and  Anne  Boleyn 
could  have  been  lawfully  married  to  Henry  the  Eighth;  and 
the  highest  authority  in  the  realm  had  pronounced  that  neither 
was  so.  The  Tudors,  far  from  considering  the  law  of  succes- 
sion as  a  divine  and  unchangeable  institution,  were  constantly 
tampering  with  it.  Henry  the  Eighth  obtained  an  act  of 
parliament,  giving  him  power  to  leave  the  crown  by  will,  and 
actually  made  a  vidll  to  the  prejudice  of  the  royal  family  of 
Scotland.  Edward  the  Sixth,  unauthorised  by  parliament, 
assumed  a  similar  power,  with   the   full   approbation  of  the 


most  eminent  Reformers,  Elizabeth,  conscious  that  ner  own 
title  was  open  to  grave  objection,  and  unwilling  to  admit  even 
a  reversionary  right  in  her  rival  and  enemy  the  Queen  of  Scots, 
induced  the  Parliament,  to  pass  a  law,  enacting  that  whoever 
should  deny  the  competency  of  the  reigning  sovereign,  with 
the  assent  of  the  Estates  of  the  realm,  to  alter  the  succession, 
should  suffer  death  as  a  traitor.  But  the  situation  of  James 
was  widely  different  from  that  of  Elizabeth.  Far  inferior  to 
her  in  abilities  and  in  popularity,  regarded  by  the  English  as 
an  alien,  and  excluded  from  the  throne  by  the  testament  of 
Henry  the  Eighth,  the  King  of  Scots  was  yet  the  undoubted 
heir  of  William  the  Conqueror  and  of  Egbert.  He  had, 
therefore,  an  obvious  interest  in  inculcating  the  superstitious 
notion  that  birth  confers  rights  anterior  to  law,  and  unalterable 
by  law.  It  was  a  notion,  moreover,  well  suited  to  his  intellect 
and  temper.  It  soon  found  many  advocates  among  those  who 
aspired  to  his  favour,  and  made  rapid  progress  among  the 
clergy  of  the  Established  Church. 

Thus,  at  the  very  moment  at  which  a  republican  spirit  began 
to  manifest  itself  strongly  in  the  Parliament  and  in  the  country, 
the  claims  of  the  monarch  took  a  monstrous  form  which  would 
have  disgusted  the  proudest  and  most  arbitrary  of  those  who 
had  preceded  him  on  the  throne. 

James  was  always  boasting  of  his  skill  in  what  he  called 
kingcraft ;  and  yet  it  is  hardly  possible  even  to  imagine  a 
course  more  directly  opposed  to  all  the  rules  of  kingcraft  than 
that  which  he  followed.  The  policy  of  wise  rulers  has  always 
been  to  disguise  strong  acts  under  popular  forms.  It  was  thus 
that  Augustus  and  Napoleon  established  absolute  monarchies, 
while  the  public  regarded  them  merely  as  eminent  citizens 
invested  with  temporary  magistracies.  The  policy  of  James 
was  the  direct  reverse  of  theirs.  He  enraged  and  alarmed  his 
Parliament  by  constantly  telling  them  that  they  held  their 
privileges  merely  during  his  pleasure,  and  that  they  had  no 
more  business  to  inquire  what  he  might  lawfully  do  than  what 
the  Deity  might  lawfully  do.  Yet  he  quailed  before  them, 
abandoned  minister  after  minister  to  their  vengeance,  and 
suffered  them  to  tease  him  into  acts  directly  opposed  to  his 
strongest  inclinations.  Thus  the  indignation  excited  by  his 
claims  and  the  scorn  excited  by  his  concessions  went  on 
growing  together.  By  his  fondness  for  worthless  minions,  and 
by  the  sanction  which  he  gave  to  their  tyranny  and  rapacity, 
he  kept  discontent  constantly  alive.  His  cowardice,  his 
childishness,  his  pedantry,  his  ungainly  person  and  manners, 



his  provincial  accent  made  him  an  object  of  derision.  Even 
in  his  virtues  and  accomplishments  there  was  something 
eminently  unkingly.  Throughout  the  whole  course  of  his 
reign,  all  the  venerable  associations  by  which  the  throne  had 
long  been  fenced  were  gradually  losing  their  strength.  During 
two  hundred  years  all  the  sovereigns  who  had  ruled  England, 
with  the  single  exception  of  the  unfortunate  Henry  the  Sixth, 
had  been  strongminded,  highspirited,  courageous,  and  of 
princely  bearing.  Almost  all  had  possessed  abilities  above 
the  ordinary  level.  It  was  no  light  thing  that,  on  the  very 
eve  of  the  decisive  struggle  between  our  Kings  and  their 
Parliaments,  royalty  should  be  exhibited  to  the  world  stammer- 
ing, slobbering,  shedding  unmanly  tears,  trembling  at  a  drawn 
sword,  and  talking  in  the  style  alternately  of  a  buffoon  and  of 
a  pedagogue. 

In  the  meantime  the  religious  dissensions,  by  which,  from 
the  days  of  Edward  the  Sixth,  the  Protestant  body  had  been 
distracted,  had  become  more  formidable  than  ever.  The 
interval  which  had  separated  the  first  generation  of  Puritans 
from  Cranmer  and  Jewel  was  small  indeed  when  compared 
with  the  interval  which  separated  the  third  generation  of 
Puritans  from  Laud  and  Hammond.  While  the  recollection 
of  Mary's  cruelties  was  still  fresh,  while  the  power  of  the 
Catholic  party  still  inspired  apprehension,  while  Spain  still 
retained  ascendency  and  aspired  to  universal  dominion,  all  the 
reformed  sects  knew  that  they  had  a  strong  common  interest 
and  a  deadly  common  enemy.  The  animosity  which  they 
felt  towards  each  other  was  languid  when  compared  with  the 
animosity  which  they  all  felt  towards  Rome.  Conformists  and 
Nonconformists  had  heartily  joined  in  enacting  penal  laws  of 
extreme  severity  against  the  Papists.  But  when  more  than 
half  a  century  of  undisturbed  possession  had  given  confidence 
to  the  Established  Church,  when  nine  tenths  of  the  nation 
had  become  heartily  Protestant,  when  England  was  at  peace 
with  all  the  world,  when  there  was  no  danger  that  Popery 
would  be  forced  by  foreign  arms  on  the  nation,  when  the  last 
confessors  who  had  stood  before  Bonner  had  passed  away,  a 
change  took  place  in  the  feeling  of  the  Anglican  clergy.  Their 
hostility  to  the  Roman  Catholic  doctrine  and  discipline  was  con- 
siderably mitigated.  Their  dislike  of  the  Puritans,  on  the  other 
hand,  increased  daily.  The  controversies  which  had  from  the 
beginning  divided  the  Protestant  party  took  such  a  form  as 
made  reconciliation  hopeless ;  and  new  controversies  of  still 
greater  importance  were  added  to  the  old  subjects  of  dispute. 


The  founders  of  the  Anglican  Church  had  retained  episcopacy 
as  an  ancient,  a  decent,  and  a  convenient  ecclesiastical  polity, 
but  had  not  declared  that  form  of  church  government  to  be  of 
divine  institution.  We  have  already  seen  how  low  an  estimate 
Cranmer  had  formed  of  the  ofifice  of  a  Bishop.  In  the  reign 
of  Elizabeth,  Jewel,  Cooper,  Whitgift,  and  other  eminent 
doctors  defended  prelacy  as  innocent,  as  useful,  as  what  the 
state  might  lawfully  establish,  as  what,  when  established  by  the 
state,  was  entitled  to  the  respect  of  every  citizen.  But  they 
never  denied  that  a  Christian  community  without  a  Bishop 
might  be  a  pure  Church.  On  the  contrary,  they  regarded  the 
Protestants  of  the  Continent  as  of  the  same  household  of  faith 
with  themselves.  Englishmen  in  England  were  indeed  bound 
to  acknowledge  the  authority  of  the  Bishop,  as  they  were  bound 
to  acknowledge  the  authority  of  the  Sheriff  and  of  the  Coroner: 
but  the  obligation  was  purely  local.  An  English  churchman, 
nay  even  an  English  prelate,  if  he  went  to  Holland,  conformed 
without  scruple  to  the  established  religion  of  Holland.  Abroad 
the  ambassadors  of  Elizabeth  and  James  went  in  state  to  the 
very  worship  which  Elizabeth  and  James  persecuted  at  home, 
and  carefully  abstained  from  decorating  their  private  chapels 
after  the  Anglican  fashion,  lest  scandal  should  be  given  to 
weaker  brethren.  In  the  year  1603,  the  Convocation  of  the 
province  of  Canterbury  solemnly  recognised  the  Church  of 
Scotland,  a  Church  in  which  episcopal  control  and  episcopal 
ordination  were  then  unknown,  as  a  branch  of  the  Holy 
Catholic  Church  of  Christ.*  It  was  even  held  that  Presby- 
terian ministers  were  entitled  to  place  and  voice  in  oecumenical 
councils.  When  the  States  General  of  the  United  Provinces 
convoked  at  Dort  a  synod  of  doctors  not  episcopally  ordained, 
an  Enghsh  Bishop  and  an  English  Dean,  commissioned  by  the 
head  of  the  English  Church,  sate  with  those  doctors,  preached 
to  them,  and  voted  with  them  on  the  gravest  questions  of 
theology.!  Nay,  many  English  benefices  were  held  by  divines 
who  had  been  admitted  to  the  ministry  in  the  Calvinistic  form 
used  on  the  Continent ;  nor  was  reordination  by  a  Bishop 
in  such  cases  then  thought  necessary,  or  even  lawful. 

But  a  new  race  of  divines  was  already  rising  in  the  Church 

*  Canon  55.  of  1603. 

t  Joseph  Hall,  then  dean  of  Worcester,  and  afterwards  bishop  of 
Norwich,  was  one  of  the  commissioners.  In  his  life  of  himself,  he  says : 
"  My  unworthiness  was  named  for  one  of  the  assistants  of  that  honourable, 
grave,  and  reverend  meeting,"  To  high  churchmen  this  humility  will  seem 
not  a  little  out  of  place. 


of  England.  In  their  view  the  episcopal  office  was  essential 
to  the  welfare  of  a  Christian  society  and  to  the  efficacy  of  the 
most  solemn  ordinances  of  religion.  To  that  office  belonged 
certain  high  and  sacred  privileges,  which  no  human  power 
could  give  or  take  away.  A  church  might  as  well  be  without 
the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity,  or  the  doctrine  of  the  Incarnation, 
as  without  the  apostolical  orders ;  and  the  Church  of  Rome, 
which,  in  the  midst  of  all  her  corruptions,  had  retained  the 
apostolical  orders,  was  nearer  to  primitive  purity  than  those 
reformed  societies  which  had  rashly  set  up,  in  opposition  to 
the  divine  model,  a  system  invented  by  men. 

In  the  days  of  Edward  the  Sixth  and  of  Elizabeth,  the 
defenders  of  the  Anglican  ritual  had  generally  contented  them- 
selves with  saying  that  it  might  be  used  without  sin,  and  that, 
therefore,  none  but  a  perverse  and  undutiful  subject  would 
refuse  to  use  it  when  enjoined  to  do  so  by  the  magistrate. 
Now,  however,  that  rising  party  which  claimed  for  the  polity 
of  the  Church  a  celestial  origin  began  to  ascribe  to  her  services 
a  new  dignity  and  importance.  It  was  hinted  that,  if  the 
established  worship  had  any  fault,  that  fault  was  extreme 
simplicity,  and  that  the  Reformers  had,  in  the  heat  of  their 
quarrel  with  Rome,  abolished  many  ancient  ceremonies  which 
might  with  advantage  have  been  retained.  Days  and  places 
were  again  held  in  mysterious  veneration.  Some  practices 
which  had  long  been  disused,  and  which  were  commonly 
regarded  as  superstitious  mummeries,  were  revived.  Paintings 
and  carvings,  which  had  escaped  the  fury  of  the  first  generation 
of  Protestants,  became  the  objects  of  a  respect  such  as  to  many 
seemed  idolatrous. 

No  part  of  the  system  of  the  old  Church  had  been  more 
detested  by  the  reformers  than  the  honour  paid  to  celibacy. 
They  held  that  the  doctrine  of  Rome  on  this  subject  had  been 
prophetically  condemned  by  the  Apostle  Paul,  as  a  doctrine  of 
devils ;  and  they  dwelt  much  on  the  crimes  and  scandals 
which  seemed  to  prove  the  justice  of  this  awful  denunciation. 
Luther  had  evinced  his  own  opinion  in  the  clearest  manner,  by 
espousing  a  nun.  Some  of  the  most  illustrious  bishops  and 
priests  who  had  died  by  fire  during  the  reign  of  Mary  had  left 
wives  and  children.  Now,  however,  it  began  to  be  rumoured 
that  the  old  monastic  spirit  had  reappeared  in  the  Church  of 
England ;  that  there  was  in  high  quarters  a  prejudice  against 
married  priests ;  that  even  laymen,  who  called  themselves 
Protestants,  had  made  resolutions  of  celibacy  which  almost 
amounted  to  vows  ;   nay,  that  a  minister  of  the  established 


religion  had  set  up  a  nunnery,  in  which  the  psalms  were 
chaunted  at  midnight,  by  a  company  of  virgins  dedicated  to 

Nor  was  this  all.  A  class  of  questions  as  to  which  the 
founders  of  the  Anglican  Church  and  the  first  generation  of 
Puritans  had  differed  little  or  not  at  all  began  to  furnish  matter 
for  fierce  disputes.  The  controversies  which  had  divided  the 
Protestant  body  in  its  infancy  had  related  almost  exclusively 
to  church  government  and  to  ceremonies.  There  had  been 
no  serious  quarrel  between  the  contending  parties  on  points  of 
metaphysical  theology.  The  doctrines  held  by  the  chiefs  of 
the  hierarchy  touching  original  sin,  faith,  grace,  predestination, 
and  election,  were  those  which  are  popularly  called  Calvin istic. 
Towards  the  close  of  Elizabeth's  reign  her  favourite  prelate, 
Archbishop  Whitgift,  drew  up,  in  concert  with  the  Bishop  of 
London  and  other  theologians,  the  celebrated  instrument 
known  by  the  name  of  the  Lambeth  Articles.  In  that  instru- 
ment the  most  startling  of  the  Calvinistic  doctrines  are 
affirmed  with  a  distinctness  which  would  shock  many  who,  in 
our  age,  are  reputed  Calvinists.  One  clergyman,  who  took  the 
opposite  side,  and  spoke  harshly  of  Calvin,  was  arraigned  for 
his  presumption  by  the  University  of  Cambridge,  and  escaped 
punishment  only  by  expressing  his  firm  belief  in  the  tenets  of 
reprobation  and  final  perseverance,  and  his  sorrow  for  the 
offence  which  he  had  given  to  pious  men  by  reflecting  on  the 
great  French  reformer.  The  school  of  divinity  of  which 
Hooker  was  the  chief  occupies  a  middle  place  between  the 
school  of  Cranmer  and  the  school  of  Laud ;  and  Hooker  has, 
in  modern  times,  been  claimed  by  the  Arminians  as  an  ally. 
Yet  Hooker  pronounced  Calvin  to  have  been  a  man  superior 
in  wisdom  to  any  other  divine  that  France  had  produced,  a 
man  to  whom  thousands  were  indebted  for  the  knowledge  of 
divine  truth,  but  who  was  himself  indebted  to  God  alone. 
When  the  Arminian  controversy  arose  in  Holland,  the  English 
government  and  the  English  Church  lent  strong  support  to 
the  Calvinistic  party  ;  nor  is  the  English  name  altogether  free 
from  the  stain  which  has  been  left  on  that  party  by  the 
imprisonment  of  Grotius  and  the  judicial  murder  of  Barneveldt. 

But,  even  before  the  meeting  of  the  Dutch  synod,  that  part 
of  the  Anglican  clergy  which  was  peculiarly  hostile  to  the 
Calvinistic  church  government  and  to  the  Calvinistic  worship 

*  Peckard's  Life  of  Ferrar.  The  Arminian  Nunnery,  or  a  Brief  De- 
scription of  the  late  erected  monastical  Place  called  the  Arminian  Nunnery, 
at  Little  Gidding  in  Huntingdonshire,  1641. 


had  begun  to  regard  with  dislike  the  Calvinistic  metaphysics  ; 
and  this  feeUng  was  very  naturally  strengthened  by  the  gross 
injustice,  insolence,  and  cruelty  of  the  party  which  was 
prevalent  at  Dort.  The  Arminian  doctrine,  a  doctrine  less 
austerely  logical  than  that  of  the  early  reformers,  but  more 
agreeable  to  the  popular  notions  of  the  divine  justice  and 
benevolence,  spread  fast  and  wide.  The  infection  soon 
reached  the  court.  Opinions  which,  at  the  time  of  the 
accession  of  James,  no  clergyman  could  have  avowed  without 
imminent  risk  of  being  stripped  of  his  gown  were  now  the  best 
title  to  preferment.  A  divine  of  that  age,  who  was  asked  by  a 
simple  country  gentleman  what  the  Arminians  held,  answered, 
with  as  much  truth  as  wit,  that  they  held  all  the  best  bishoprics 
and  deaneries  in  England. 

While  a  section  of  the  Anglican  clergy  quitted,  in  one 
direction,  the  position  which  they  had  originally  occupied,  a 
section  of  the  Puritan  body  departed,  in  a  direction  diametri- 
cally opposite,  from  the  principles  and  practices  of  their 
fathers.  The  persecution  which  the  separatists  had  undergone 
had  been  severe  enough  to  irritate,  but  not  severe  enough  to 
destroy.  They  had  not  been  tamed  into  submission,  but 
baited  into  savageness  and  stubbornness.  After  the  fashion  of 
oppressed  sects,  they  mistook  their  own  vindictive  feelmgs  for 
emotions  of  piety,  encouraged  in  themselves  by  reading  and 
meditation  a  disposition  to  brood  over  their  wrongs,  and,  when 
they  had  worked  themselves  up  into  hating  their  enemies, 
imagined  that  they  were  only  hating  the  enemies  of  heaven. 
In  the  New  Testament  there  was  Httle  indeed  which,  even 
when  perverted  by  the  most  disingenuous  exposition,  could 
seem  to  countenance  the  indulgence  of  malevolent  passions. 
But  the  Old  Testament  contained  the  history  of  a  race  selected 
by  God  to  be  witnesses  of  his  unity  and  ministers  of  his 
vengeance,  and  specially  commanded  by  him  to  do  many 
things  which,  if  done  without  his  special  command,  would 
have  been  atrocious  crimes.  In  such  a  history  it  was  not 
difficult  for  fierce  and  gloomy  spirits  to  find  much  that  might 
be  distorted  to  suit  their  wishes.  The  extreme  Puritans 
therefore  began  to  feel  for  the  Old  Testament  a  preference, 
which,  perhaps,  they  did  not  distinctly  avow  even  to  them- 
selves ;  but  which  showed  itself  in  all  their  sentiments  and 
habits.  They  paid  to  the  Hebrew  language  a  respect  which 
they  refused  to  that  tongue  in  which  the  discourses  of  Jesus 
and  the  epistles  of  Paul  have  come  down  to  us.  They 
baptized  their  children  by  the  names,  not  of  Christian  saints, 


but  of  Hebrew  patriarchs  and  warriors.  In  defiance  of  the 
express  and  reiterated  declarations  of  Luther  and  Calvin,  they 
turned  the  weekly  festival  by  which  the  Church  had,  from  the 
primitive  times,  commemorated  the  resurrection  of  her  Lord, 
into  a  Jewish  Sabbath.  They  sought  for  prmciples  of  juris- 
prudence m  the  Mosaic  law,  and  for  precedents  to  guide  their 
ordinary  conduct  in  the  books  of  Judges  and  Kings.  Their 
thoughts  and  discourse  ran  much  on  acts  which  were  assuredly 
not  recorded  as  examples  for  our  imitation.  The  prophet 
who  hewed  in  pieces  a  captive  king,  the  rebel  general  who 
gave  the  blood  of  a  queen  to  the  dogs,  the  matron  who,  in 
defiance  of  plighted  faith,  and  of  the  laws  of  eastern  hospitality, 
drove  the  nail  into  the  brain  of  the  fugitive  ally  who  had  just 
fed  at  her  board,  and  who  was  sleeping  under  the  shadow  of 
her  tent,  were  proposed  as  models  to  Christians  suffering 
under  the  tyranny  of  princes  and  prelates.  Morals  and 
manners  were  subjected  to  a  code  resembling  that  of  the 
synagogue,  when  the  synagogue  was  in  its  worst  state.  The 
dress,  the  deportment,  the  language,  the  studies,  the  amuse- 
ments of  the  rigid  sect  were  regulated  on  principles  resembling 
those  of  the  Pharisees  who,  proud  of  their  washed  hands  and 
broad  phylacteries,  taunted  the  Redeemer  as  a  sabbathbreaker 
and  a  winebibber.  It  was  a  sin  to  hang  garlands  on  a 
Maypole,  to  drink  a  friend's  health,  to  fly  a  hawk,  to  hunt  a 
stag,  to  play  at  chess,  to  wear  lovelocks,  to  put  starch  into  a 
ruff,  to  touch  the  virginals,  to  read  the  Fairy  Queen.  Rules 
such  as  these,  rules  which  would  have  appeared  insupportable 
to  the  free  and  joyous  spirit  of  Luther,  and  contemptible  to  the 
serene  and  philosophical  intellect  of  Zwingle,  threw  over  all 
life  a  more  than  monastic  gloom  The  learning  and  eloquence 
by  which  the  great  reformers  had  been  eminently  distinguished, 
and  to  which  they  had  been,  in  no  small  measure,  indebted 
for  their  success,  were  regarded  by  the  new  school  of  Pro- 
testants with  suspicion,  if  not  with  aversion.  Some  precisians 
had  scruples  about  teaching  the  Latin  grammar  because  the 
names  of  Mars,  Bacchus,  and  Apollo  occurred  in  it.  The  fine 
arts  were  all  but  proscribed.  The  solemn  peal  of  the  organ 
was  superstitious.  The  light  music  of  Ben  Jonson's  masques 
was  dissolute.  Half  the  fine  paintings  in  England  were 
idolatrous,  and  the  other  half  indecent.  The  extreme  Puritan 
was  at  once  known  from  other  men  by  his  gait,  his  garb,  his 
lank  hair,  the  sour  solemnity  of  his  face,  the  upturned  white  of 
his  eyes,  the  nasal  twang  with  which  he  spoke,  and,  above  all, 
by   his  peculiar   dialect.     He   employed,  on  every  occasion, 


the  imagery  and  style  of  Scripture.  Hebraisms  violently 
introduced  into  the  English  language,  and  metaphors  borrowed 
from  the  boldest  lyric  poetry  of  a  remote  age  and  country,  and 
applied  to  the  common  concerns  of  English  life,  were  the 
most  striking  peculiarities  of  this  cant,  which  moved,  not 
without  cause,  the  derision  both  of  prelatists  and  libertines. 

Thus  the  political  and  religious  schism  which  had  originated 
in  the  sixteenth  century  was,  during  the  first  quarter  of  the 
seventeenth  century,  constantly  widening.  Theories  tending 
to  Turkish  despotism  were  in  fashion  at  Whitehall,  Theories 
tending  to  republicanism  were  in  favour  with  a  large  portion 
of  the  House  of  Commons.  The  violent  Prelatists  who  were, 
to  a  man,  zealous  for  prerogative,  and  the  violent  Puritans 
who  were,  to  a  man,  zealous  for  the  privileges  of  Parliament, 
regarded  each  other  with  animosity  more  intense  than  that 
which,  in  the  preceding  generation,  had  existed  between 
Catholics  and  Protestants. 

While  the  minds  of  men  were  in  this  state,  the  country, 
after  a  peace  of  many  years,  at  length  engaged  in  a  war  which 
required  strenuous  exertions.  This  war  hastened  the  approach 
of  the  great  constitutional  crisis.  It  was  necessary  that  the 
King  should  have  a  large  military  force.  He  could  not  have 
such  a  force  without  money.  He  could  not  legally  raise 
money  without  the  consent  of  Parliament.  It  followed,  there- 
fore, that  he  must  either  administer  the  government  in 
conformity  with  the  sense  of  the  House  of  Commons,  or  must 
venture  on  such  a  violation  of  the  fundamental  laws  of  the 
land  as  had  been  unknown  during  several  centuries.  The 
Plantagenets  and  the  Tudors  had,  it  is  true,  occasionally 
supplied  a  deficiency  in  their  revenue  by  a  benevolence  or  a 
forced  loan  :  but  these  expedients  were  always  of  a  temporary 
nature.  To  meet  the  regular  charge  of  a  long  war  by  regular 
taxation,  imposed  without  the  consent  of  the  Estates  of  the 
realm,  was  a  course  which  Henry  the  Eighth  himself  would 
not  have  dared  to  take.  It  seemed,  therefore,  that  the  decisive 
hour  was  approaching,  and  that  the  English  Parliament  would 
soon  either  share  the  fate  of  the  senates  of  the  Continent,  or 
obtain  supreme  ascendency  in  the  state. 

Just  at  this  conjuncture  James  died.  Charles  the  First 
succeeded  to  the  throne.  He  had  received  from  nature  a  far 
better  understanding,  a  far  stronger  will,  and  a  far  keener  and 
firmer  temper  than  his  father's.  He  had  inherited  his  father's 
political  theories,  and  was  much  more  disposed  than  his  father 
to  carry  them  into  practice.     He  was,  like  his  father,  a  zealous 


episcopalian.  He  was,  moreover,  what  his  father  had  never 
been,  a  zealous  Arminian,  and,  though  no  Papist,  liked  a 
Papist  much  better  than  a  Puritan.  It  would  be  unjust  to 
deny  that  Charles  had  some  of  the  qualities  of  a  good,  and 
even  of  a  great  prince.  He  wrote  and  spoke,  not,  like  his 
father,  with  the  exactness  of  a  professor,  but  after  the  fashion 
of  intelligent  and  well  educated  gentlemen.  His  taste  in 
literature  and  art  was  excellent,  his  manner  dignified  though 
not  gracious,  his  domestic  life  without  blemish.  Faithlessness 
was  the  chief  cause  of  his  disasters,  and  is  the  chief  stain  on 
his  memory.  He  was,  in  truth,  impelled  by  an  incurable 
propensity  to  dark  and  crooked  ways.  It  may  seem  strange 
that  his  conscience,  which,  on  occasions  of  little  moment,  was 
sufficiently  sensitive,  should  never  have  reproached  him  with 
this  great  vice.  But  there  is  reason  to  believe  that  he  was 
perfidious,  not  only  from  constitution  and  from  habit,  but  also 
on  principle.  He  seems  to  have  learned  from  the  theologians 
whom  he  most  esteemed  that  between  him  and  his  subjects 
there  could  be  nothing  of  the  nature  of  mutual  contract ;  that 
he  could  not,  even  if  he  would,  divest  himself  of  his  despotic 
authority  ;  and  that,  in  every  promise  which  he  made,  there 
was  an  implied  reservation  that  such  promise  might  be  broken 
in  case  of  necessity,  and  that  of  the  necessity  he  was  the  sole 

And  now  began  that  hazardous  game  on  which  were  staked 
the  destinies  of  the  English  people.  It  was  played  on  the  side 
of  the  House  of  Commons  with  keenness,  but  with  admirable 
dexterity,  coolness,  and  perseverance.  Great  statesmen  who 
looked  far  behind  them  and  far  before  them  were  at  the  head 
of  that  assembly.  They  were  resolved  to  place  the  King  in 
such  a  situation  that  he  must  either  conduct  the  administration 
in  conformity  with  the  wishes  of  his  Parliament,  or  make 
outrageous  attacks  on  the  most  sacred  principles  of  the  con- 
stitution. They  accordingly  doled  out  supplies  to  him  very 
sparingly.  He  found  that  he  must  govern  either  in  harmony 
with  the  House  of  Commons,  or  in  defiance  of  all  law.  His 
choice  was  soon  made.  He  dissolved  his  first  Parliament, 
and  levied  taxes  by  his  own  authority.  He  convoked  a  second 
Parliament,  and  found  it  more  intractable  than  the  first.  He 
again  resorted  to  the  expedient  of  dissolution,  raised  fresh 
taxes  without  any  show  of  legal  right,  and  threw  the  chiefs  of 
the  opposition  into  prison.  At  the  same  time  a  new  grievance, 
which  the  peculiar  feelings  and  habits  of  the  English  nation 
made  insupportably  painful,  and  which  seemed  to  all  discerning 



men  to  be  of  fearful  augury,  excited  general  discontent  and 
alarm.  Companies  of  soldiers  were  billeted  on  the  people ; 
and  martial  law  was,  in  some  places,  substituted  for  the  ancient 
jurisprudence  of  the  realm. 

The  King  called  a  third  Parliament,  and  soon  perceived 
that  the  opposition  was  stronger  and  fiercer  than  ever.  He 
now  determined  on  a  change  of  tactics.  Instead  of  opposing 
an  inflexible  resistance  to  the  demands  of  the  Commons,  he, 
after  much  altercation  and  many  evasions,  agreed  to  a  com- 
promise which,  if  he  had  faithfully  adhered  to  it,  would  have 
averted  a  long  series  of  calamities.  The  Parliament  granted 
an  ample  supply.  The  King  ratified,  in  the  most  solemn 
manner,  that  celebrated  law,  which  is  known  by  the  name  of 
the  Petition  of  Right,  and  which  is  the  second  Great  Charter 
of  the  liberties  of  England.  By  ratifying  that  law  he  bound 
himself  never  again  to  raise  money  without  the  consent  of  the 
Houses,  never  again  to  imprison  any  person,  except  in  due 
course  of  law,  and  never  again  to  subject  his  people  to  the 
jurisdiction  of  courts  martial. 

The  day  on  which  the  royal  sanction  was,  after  many  delays, 
solemnly  given  to  this  great  act,  was  a  day  of  joy  and  hope. 
The  Commons,  who  crowded  the  bar  of  the  House  of  Lords, 
broke  forth  into  loud  acclamations  as  soon  as  the  clerk  had 
pronounced  the  ancient  form  of  words  by  which  our  princes 
have,  during  many  ages,  signified  their  assent  to  the  wishes  of 
the  Estates  of  the  realm.  Those  acclamations  were  reechoed 
by  the  voice  of  the  capital  and  of  the  nation  ;  but  within  three 
weeks  it  became  manifest  that  Charles  had  no  intention  of 
observing  the  compact  into  which  he  had  entered.  The  supply 
given  by  the  representatives  of  the  nation  was  collected.  The 
promise  by  which  that  supply  had  been  obtained  was  broken. 
A  violent  contest  followed.  The  Parliament  was  dissolved 
with  every  mark  of  royal  displeasure.  Some  of  the  most 
distinguished  members  were  imprisoned ;  and  one  of  them, 
Sir  John  Eliot,  after  years  of  suffering,  died  in  confinement. 

Charles,  however,  could  not  venture  to  raise,  by  his  own 
authority,  taxes  sufificient  for  carrying  on  war.  He  accordingly 
hastened  to  make  peace  with  his  neighbours,  and  thenceforth 
gave  his  whole  mind  to  British  politics. 

Now  commenced  a  new  era.  Many  English  Kings  had 
occasionally  committed  unconstitutional  acts :  but  none  had 
ever  systematically  attempted  to  make  himself  a  despot,  and  to 
reduce  the  Parliament  to  a  nullity.  Such  was  the  end  which 
Charles  distinctly  proposed  to  himself.     From  March  1629  to 


April  1640,  the  Houses  were  not  convoked.  Never  in  our 
history  had  there  been  an  interval  of  eleven  years  between 
Parliament  and  Parliament.  Only  once  had  there  been  an 
interval  of  even  half  that  length.  This  fact  alone  is  sufficient 
to  refute  those  who  represent  Charles  as  having  merely  trodden 
in  the  footsteps  of  the  Plantagenets  and  Tudors. 

It  is  proved,  by  the  testimony  of  the  King's  most  strenuous 
supporters,  that,  during  this  part  of  his  reign,  the  provisions  of 
the  Petition  of  Right  were  violated  by  him,  not  occasionally, 
but  constantly,  and  on  system  ;  that  a  large  part  of  the  revenue 
was  raised  without  any  legal  authority ;  and  that  persons 
obnoxious  to  the  government  languished  for  years  in  prison, 
without  beng  ever  called  upon  to  plead  before  any  tribunal. 

For  these  things  history  must  hold  the  King  himself  chiefly 
responsible.  From  the  time  of  his  third  Parliament  he  was  his 
own  prime  minister.  Several  persons,  however,  whose  temper 
and  talents  were  suited  to  his  purposes,  were  at  the  head  of 
different  departments  of  the  administration. 

Thomas  Wentworth,  successively  created  Lord  Wentworth 
and  Earl  of  Strafford,  a  man  of  great  abilities,  eloquence,  and 
courage,  but  of  a  cruel  and  imperious  nature,  was  the  counsellor 
most  trusted  in  political  and  military  affairs.  He  had  been 
one  of  the  most  distinguished  members  of  the  opposition,  and 
felt  towards  those  whom  he  had  deserted  that  peculiar  mahgnity 
which  has,  in  all  ages,  been  characteristic  of  apostates.  He 
perfectly  understood  the  feelings,  the  resources,  and  the  policy 
of  the  party  to  which  he  had  lately  belonged,  and  had  formed 
a  vast  and  deeply  meditated  scheme  which  very  nearly  con- 
founded even  the  able  tactics  of  the  statesmen  by  whom  the 
House  of  Commons  had  been  directed.  To  this  scheme,  in 
his  confidential  correspondence,  he  gave  the  expressive  name  of 
Thorough.  His  object  was  to  do  in  England  all,  and  more 
than  all,  that  Richelieu  was  doing  in  France ;  to  make  Charles 
a  monarch  as  absolute  as  any  on  the  Continent ;  to  put  the 
estates  and  the  personal  liberty  of  the  whole  people  at  the 
disposal  of  the  crown  ;  to  deprive  the  courts  of  law  of  all 
independent  authority,  even  in  ordinary  questions  of  civil  right 
between  man  and  man  ;  and  to  punish  with  merciless  rigour  all 
who  murmured  at  the  acts  of  the  government,  or  who  applied, 
even  in  the  most  decent  and  regular  manner,  to  any  tribunal 
for  relief  against  those  acts.* 

*  The  correspondence  of  Wentworth  seems  to  me  fully  to  bear  out  what 
I  have  said  in  the  text.  To  transcribe  all  the  passages  which  have  led  me 
to  the  conclusion  at  which  I  have  arrived,  would  be  impossible  ;  nor  would 


This  was  his  end ;  and  he  distinctly  saw  in  what  manner 
alone  this  end  could  be  attained.  There  was,  in  truth,  about 
all  his  notions  a  clearness,  coherence,  and  precision  which,  if 
he  had  not  been  pursuing  an  object  pernicious  to  his  country 
and  to  his  kind,  would  have  justly  entitled  him  to  high 
admiration.  He  saw  that  there  was  one  instrument,  and  only 
one,  by  which  his  vast  and  daring  projects  could  be  carried  into 
execution.  That  instrument  was  a  standing  army.  To  the 
forming  of  such  an  army,  therefore,  he  directed  all  the  energy 
of  his  strong  mind.  In  Ireland,  where  he  was  viceroy^  he 
actually  succeeded  in  establishing  a  military  despotism,  not 
only  over  the  aboriginal  population,  but  also  over  the  English 
colonists,  and  was  able  to  boast  that,  in  that  island,  the  King 
was  as  absolute  as  any  prince  in  the  whole  world  could  be.* 

The  ecclesiastical  administration  was,  in  the  meantime, 
principally  directed  by  William  Laud,  Archbishop  of  Canter- 
bury. Of  all  the  prelates  of  the  Anglican  Church,  Laud  had 
departed  farthest  from  the  principles  of  the  Reformation,  and 
had  drawn  nearest  to  Rome.  His  theology  was  more  remote 
than  even  that  of  the  Dutch  Arminians  from  the  theology 
of  the  Calvinists.  His  passion  for  ceremonies,  his  rever- 
ence for  holidays,  vigils,  and  sacred  places,  his  ill-concealed 
dislike  of  the  marriage  of  ecclesiastics,  the  ardent  and  not 
altogether  disinterested  zeal  with  which  he  asserted  the  claims 
of  the  clergy  to  the  reverence  of  the  laity,  would  have  made 
him  an  object  of  aversion  to  the  Puritans,  even  if  he  had  used 
only  legal  and  gentle  means  for  the  attainment  of  his  ends. 
But  his  understanding  was  narrow,  and  his  commerce  with  the 
world  had  been  small.  He  was  by  nature  rash,  irritable,  quick 
to  feel  for  his  own  dignity,  slow  to  sympathize  with  the 
sufferings  of  others,  and  prone  to  the  error,  common  in  super- 
stitious men,  of  mistaking  his  own  peevish  and  malignant 
moods  for  emotions  of  pious  zeal.  Under  his  direction  every 
corner  of  the  realm  was  subjected  to  a  constant  and  minute 
inspection.  Every  little  congregation  of  separatists  was  tracked 
out  and  broken  up.  Even  the  devotions  of  private  families 
could  not  escape  the  vigilance  of  his  spies.  Such  fear  did  his 
rigour  inspire  that  the  deadly  hatred  of   the  Church,  which 

it  be  easy  to  make  a  better  selection  than  has  already  been  made  by  Mr. 
Hallam.  I  may,  however,  direct  the  attention  of  the  reader  particularly  to 
the  very  able  paper  which  Wentworth  drew  up  respecting  the  affairs  of 
the  Palatinate.     The  date  is  March  31,  1637. 

*  These  are  Wentworth's  own  words.  See  his  letter  to  Laud,  dated 
Dec.  16,  1634. 


festered  in  innumerable  bosoms,  was  generally  disguised  under 
an  outward  show  of  conformity.  On  the  very  eve  of  troubles, 
fatal  to  himself  and  to  his  order,  the  Bishops  of  several  exten- 
sive dioceses  were  able  to  report  to  him  that  not  a  single 
dissenter  was  to  be  found  within  their  jurisdiction.* 

The  tribunals  afforded  no  protection  to  the  subject  against 
the  civil  and  ecclesiastical  tyranny  of  that  period.  The  judges 
of  the  common  law,  holding  their  situations  during  the  pleasure 
of  the  King,  were  scandalously  obsequious.  Yet,  obsequious 
as  they  were,  they  were  less  ready  and  efficient  instruments  of 
arbitrary  power  than  a  class  of  courts,  the  memory  of  which  is 
still,  after  the  lapse  of  more  than  two  centuries,  held  in  deep 
abhorrence  by  the  nation.  Foremost  among  these  courts  in 
power  and  in  infamy  were  the  Star  Chamber  and  the  High 
Commission,  the  former  a  political,  the  latter  a  religious 
inquisition.  Neither  was  a  part  of  the  old  constitution  of 
England.  The  Star  Chamber  had  been  remodelled,  and  the 
High  Commission  created  by  the  Tudors.  The  power  which 
these  boards  had  possessed  before  the  accession  of  Charles  had 
been  extensive  and  formidable,  but  had  been  small  indeed 
when  compared  with  that  which  they  now  usurped.  Guided 
chiefly  by  the  violent  spirit  of  the  primate,  and  freed  from  the 
control  of  Parliament  they  displayed  a  rapacity,  a  violence,  a 
malignant  energy,  which  had  been  unknown  to  any  former 
age.  The  government  was  able,  through  their  instrumentality, 
to  fine,  imprison,  pillory,  and  mutilate  without  restraint.  A 
separate  council  which  sate  at  York,  under  the  presidency  of 
Wentworth,  was  armed,  in  defiance  of  law,  by  a  pure  act  of 
prerogative,  with  almost  boundless  power  over  the  northern 
counties.  All  these  tribunals  insulted  and  defied  the  authority 
of  Westminster  Hall,  and  daily  committed  excesses  which  the 
most  distinguished  Royalists  have  warmly  condemned.  We 
are  informed  by  Clarendon  that  there  was  hardly  a  man  of  note 
in  the  realm  who  had  not  personal  experience  of  the  harshness 
and  greediness  of  the  Star  Chamber,  that  the  High  Commis- 
sion had  so  conducted  itself  that  it  had  scarce  a  friend  left  in 
the  kingdom,  and  that  the  tyranny  of  the  Council  of  York  had 
made  the  Great  Charter  a  dead  letter  north  of  the  Trent. 

The  government  of  England  was  now,  in  all  points  but  one, 
as  despotic  as  that  of  France.  But  that  one  point  was  all 
important.  There  was  still  no  standing  army.  There  was, 
therefore,  no  security  that  the  whole  fabric  of  tyranny  might 

*  See  his  report  to  Charles  for  the  year  1639. 


not  be  subverted  in  a  single  day ;  and,  if  taxes  were  imposed 
by  the  royal  authority  for  the  support  of  an  army,  it  was 
probable  that  there  would  be  an  immediate  and  irresistible 
explosion.  This  was  the  difficulty  which  more  than  any  other 
perplexed  Wentworth.  The  Lord  Keeper  Finch,  in  concert 
with  other  lawyers  who  were  employed  by  the  government, 
recommended  an  expedient,  which  was  eagerly  adopted.  The 
ancient  princes  of  England,  as  they  called  on  the  inhabitants 
of  the  counties  near  Scotland  to  arm  and  array  themselves  for 
the  defence  of  the  border,  had  sometimes  called  on  the  mari- 
time counties  to  furnish  ships  for  the  defence  of  the  coast. 
In  the  room  of  ships  money  had  sometimes  been  accepted. 
This  old  practice  it  was  now  determined,  after  a  long  interval, 
not  only  to  revive  but  to  extend.  Former  princes  had  raised 
shipmoney  only  in  time  of  war  ;  it  was  now  enacted  in  a  time 
of  profound  peace.  Former  princes,  even  in  the  most  perilous 
wars,  had  raised  shipmoney  only  along  the  coasts ;  it  was  now 
exacted  from  the  inland  shires.  Former  princes  had  raised 
shipmoney  only  for  the  maritime  defence  of  the  country ;  it 
was  now  exacted,  by  the  admission  of  the  Royalists  them- 
selves, with  the  object,  not  of  maintaining  a  navy,  but  of 
furnishing  the  King  with  supplies  which  might  be  increased  at 
his  discretion  to  any  amount,  and  expended  at  his  discretion 
for  any  purpose. 

The  whole  nation  was  alarmed  and  incensed.  John  Hamp- 
den, an  opulent  and  well-born  gentleman  of  Buckinghamshire, 
highly  considered  in  his  own  neighbourhood,  but  as  yet  little 
known  to  the  kingdom  generally,  had  the  courage  to  step 
forward,  to  confront  the  whole  power  of  the  government,  and 
take  on  himself  the  cost  and  the  risk  of  disputing  the  pre- 
rogative to  which  the  King  laid  claim.  The  case  was  argued 
before  the  judges  in  the  Exchequer  Chamber.  So  strong 
were  the  arguments  against  the  pretensions  of  the  crown  that, 
dependent  and  servile  as  the  judges  were,  the  majority  against 
Hampden  was  the  smallest  possible.  Still  there  was  a 
majority.  The  interpreters  of  the  law  had  pronounced  that 
one  great  and  productive  tax  might  be  imposed  by  the  royal 
authority.  Wentworth  justly  observed  that  it  was  impossible 
to  vindicate  their  judgment  except  by  reasons  directly  leading 
to  a  conclusion  which  they  had  not  ventured  to  draw.  If 
money  might  legally  be  raised  without  the  consent  of  Parlia- 
ment for  the  support  of  a  fleet,  it  was  not  easy  to  deny  that 
money  might,  without  consent  of  Parliament,  be  legally  raised 
for  the  support  of  an  army. 


The  decision  of  the  judges  increased  the  irritation  of  the 
people.  A  century  earlier,  irritation  less  serious  would  have 
produced  a  general  rising.  But  discontent  did  not  now  so 
readily  as  in  former  ages  take  the  form  of  rebellion.  The 
nation  had  been  long  steadily  advancing  in  wealth  and  in 
civilisation.  Since  the  great  northern  Earls  took  up  arms 
against  Elizabeth  seventy  years  had  elapsed ;  and  during  those 
seventy  years  there  had  been  no  civil  war.  Never,  during  the 
whole  existence  of  the  English  nation,  had  so  long  a  period 
passed  without  intestine  hostilities.  Men  had  become  accus- 
tomed to  the  pursuits  of  peaceful  industry,  and,  exasperated  as 
they  were,  hesitated  long  before  they  drew  the  sword. 

This  was  the  conjuncture  at  which  the  liberties  of  the  nation 
were  in  the  greatest  peril.  The  opponents  of  the  government 
began  to  despair  of  the  destiny  of  their  country ;  and  many 
looked  to  the  American  wilderness  as  the  only  asylum  in 
which  they  could  enjoy  civil  and  spiritual  freedom.  There  a 
few  resolute  Puritans,  who,  in  the  cause  of  their  religion,  feared 
neither  the  rage  of  the  ocean  nor  the  hardships  of  uncivilised 
life,  neither  the  fangs  of  savage  beasts  nor  the  tomahawks  of 
more  savage  men,  had  built,  amidst  the  primeval  forest, 
villages  which  are  now  great  and  opulent  cities,  but  which 
have,  through  every  change,  retained  some  trace  of  the  char- 
acter derived  from  their  founders.  The  government  regarded 
these  infant  colonies  with  aversion,  and  attempted  violently 
to  stop  the  stream  of  emigration,  but  could  not  prevent  the 
population  of  New  England  from  being  largely  recruited  by 
stout-hearted  and  Godfearing  men  from  every  part  of  the  old 
England.  And  now  Wentworth  exulted  in  the  near  prospect 
of  Thorough.  A  few  years  might  probably  suffice  for  the 
execution  of  his  great  design.  If  strict  economy  were 
observed,  if  all  collision  with  foreign  powers  were  carefully 
avoided,  the  debts  of  the  crown  would  be  cleared  off :  there 
would  be  funds  available  for  the  support  of  a  large  military 
force  ;  and  that  force  would  soon  break  the  refractory  spirit  of 
the  nation. 

At  this  crisis  an  act  of  insane  bigotry  suddenly  changed  the 
whole  face  of  public  affairs.  Had  the  King  been  wise,  he 
would  have  pursued  a  cautious  and  soothing  policy  towards 
Scotland  till  he  was  master  in  the  South.  For  Scotland  was 
of  all  his  kingdoms  that  in  which  there  was  the  greatest  risk 
that  a  spark  might  produce  a  flame,  and  that  a  flame  might 
become  a  conflagration.  Constitutional  opposition,  indeed, 
such  as  he  had  encountered  at  Westminster,  he  had  not  to 


apprehend  at  Edinburgh.  The  ParHament  of  his  northern 
kingdom  was  a  very  different  body  from  that  which  bore  the 
same  name  in  England.  It  was  ill  constituted ;  it  was  little 
considered ;  and  it  had  never  imposed  any  serious  restraint  on 
any  of  his  predecessors.  The  three  Estates  sate  in  one  house. 
The  commissioners  of  the  burghs  were  considered  merely  as 
retainers  of  the  great  nobles.  No  act  could  be  introduced  till 
it  had  been  approved  by  the  Lords  of  Articles,  a  committee 
which  was  really,  though  not  in  form,  nominated  by  the 
crown.  But,  though  the  Scottish  Parliament  was  obsequious, 
the  Scottish  people  had  always  been  singularly  turbulent  and 
ungovernable.  They  had  butchered  their  first  James  in  his 
bedchamber :  they  had  repeatedly  arrayed  themselves  in  arms 
against  James  the  Second  :  they  had  slain  James  the  Third  on 
the  field  of  battle  :  their  disobedience  had  broken  the  heart  of 
James  the  Fifth :  they  had  deposed  and  imprisoned  Mary : 
they  had  led  her  son  captive ;  and  their  temper  was  still  as 
intractable  as  ever.  Their  habits  were  rude  and  martial.  All 
along  the  southern  border,  and  all  along  the  line  between  the 
highlands  and  the  lowlands,  raged  an  incessant  predatory  war. 
In  every  part  of  the  country  men  were  accustomed  to  redress 
their  wrongs  by  the  strong  hand.  Whatever  loyalty  the  nation 
had  anciently  felt  to  the  Stuarts  had  cooled  during  their  long 
absence.  The  supreme  influence  over  the  public  mind  was 
divided  between  two  classes  of  malecontents,  the  lords  of  the 
soil  and  the  preachers ;  lords  animated  by  the  same  spirit 
which  had  often  impelled  the  old  Douglasses  to  withstand  the 
royal  house,  and  preachers  who  had  inherited  the  republican 
opinions  and  the  unconquerable  spirit  of  Knox.  Both  the 
national  and  religious  feelings  of  the  population  had  been 
wounded.  All  orders  of  men  complained  that  their  country, 
that  country  which  had,  with  so  much  glory,  defended  her 
independence  against  the  ablest  and  bravest  Plantagenets, 
had,  through  the  instrumentality  of  her  native  princes,  become 
in  effect,  though  not  in  name,  a  province  of  England.  In  no 
part  of  Europe  had  the  Calvinistic  doctrine  and  discipline 
taken  so  strong  a  hold  on  the  public  mind.  The  Church  of 
Rome  was  regarded  by  the  great  body  of  the  people  with  a 
hatred  which  might  justly  be  called  ferocious  ]  and  the 
Church  of  England,  which  seemed  to  be  every  day  becoming 
more  and  more  like  the  Church  of  Rome,  was  an  object  of 
scarcely  less  aversion. 

The  government  had  long  wished  to  extend  the  Anglican 
system  over  the  whole  island,  and  had  already,  with  this  view, 


made  several  changes  highly  distasteful  to  every  Presbyterian. 
One  innovation,  however,  the  most  hazardous  of  all,  because 
it  was  directly  cognisable  by  the  senses  of  the  common  people, 
had  not  yet  been  attempted.  The  public  worship  of  God  was 
still  conducted  in  the  manner  acceptable  to  the  nation.  Now, 
however,  Charles  and  Laud  determined  to  force  on  the  Scots 
the  English  liturgy,  or  rather  a  liturgy  which,  wherever  it 
differed  from  that  of  England,  differed,  in  the  judgment  of  all 
rigid  Protestants,  for  the  worse. 

To  this  step,  taken  in  the  mere  wantonness  of  tyranny,  and 
in  criminal  ignorance  or  more  criminal  contempt  of  public 
feeling,  our  country  owes  her  freedom.  The  first  performance 
of  the  foreign  ceremonies  produced  a  riot.  The  riot  rapidly 
became  a  revolution.  Ambition,  patriotism,  fanaticism,  were 
mingled  in  one  headlong  torrent.  The  whole  nation  was  in 
arms.  The  power  of  England  was  indeed,  as  appeared  some 
years  later,  sufficient  to  goerce  Scotland  :  but  a  large  part  of 
the  English  people  sympathized  with  the  religious  feelings  of 
the  insurgents;  and  many  Englishmen  who  had  no  scruple 
about  antiphonies  and  genuflexions,  altars  and  surplices,  saw 
with  pleasure  the  progress  of  a  rebellion  which  seemed  likely 
to  confound  the  arbitrary  projects  of  the  court,  and  to  make 
the  calling  of  a  Parliament  necessary. 

For  the  senseless  freak  which  had  produced  these  effects 
Wentworth  is  not  responsible.*  It  had,  in  fact,  thrown  all  his 
plans  into  confusion.  To  counsel  submission,  however,  was 
not  in  his  nature.  An  attempt  was  made  to  put  down  the 
insurrection  by  the  sword :  but  the  King's  military  means  and 
military  talents  were  unequal  to  the  task.  To  impose  fresh 
taxes  on  England  in  defiance  of  law  would,  at  this  conjuncture, 
have  been  madness.  No  resource  was  left  but  a  Parliament ; 
and  in  the  spring  of  1640  a  Parliament  was  convoked. 

The  nation  had  been  put  into  good  humour  by  the  pros- 
pect of  seeing  constitutional  government  restored,  and 
grievances  redressed.  The  new  House  of  Commons  was 
more  temperate  and  more  respectful  to  the  throne  than  any 
which  had  sate  since  the  death  of  Elizabeth.  The  moderation 
of  this  assembly  has  been  highly  extolled  by  the  most  distin- 
guished royalists,  and  seems  to  have  caused  no  small  vexation 
and  disappointment  to  the  chiefs  of  the  opposition  :  but  it  was 
the  uniform  practice  of  Charles,  a  practice  equally  impolitic 
and  ungenerous,  to  refuse  all  compliance  with  the  desires  of 

*  See  his  letter  to  the  Earl  of  Northumberland,  dated  July  30,  1638. 


his  people,  till  those  desires  were  expressed  in  a  menacing 
tone.  As  soon  as  the  Commons  showed  a  disposition  to  take 
into  consideration  the  grievances  under  which  the  country  had 
suffered  during  eleven  years,  the  King  dissolved  the  Parliament 
with  every  mark  of  displeasure. 

Between  the  dissolution  of  this  shortlived  assembly  and  the 
meeting  of  that  ever  memorable  body  known  by  the  name  of 
the  Long  Parliament,  intervened  a  few  months,  during  which 
the  yoke  was  pressed  down  more  severely  than  ever  on  the 
nation,  while  the  spirit  of  the  nation  rose  up  more  angrily  than 
ever  against  the  yoke.  Members  of  the  House  of  Commons 
were  questioned  by  the  Privy  Council  touching  their  parlia- 
mentary conduct,  and  thrown  into  prison  for  refusing  to  reply. 
Shipmoney  was  levied  with  increased  rigour.  The  Lord 
Mayor  and  the  Sheriffs  of  London  were  threatened  with 
imprisonment  for  remissness  in  collecting  the  payments. 
Soldiers  were  enlisted  by  force.  Money  for  their  support  was 
exacted  from  their  counties.  Torture,  which  had  always  been 
illegal,  and  which  had  recently  been  declared  illegal  even  by 
the  servile  judges  of  that  age,  was  inflicted  for  the  last  time  in 
England  in  the  month  of  May,  1640. 

Everything  now  depended  on  the  event  of  the  King's  military 
operations  against  the  Scots.  Among  his  troops  there  was 
little  of  that  feeling  which  separates  professional  soldiers  from 
the  mass  of  a  nation,  and  attaches  them  to  their  leaders.  His 
army,  composed  for  the  most  part  of  recruits  who  regretted  the 
plough  from  which  they  had  been  violently  taken,  and  who 
were  imbued  with  the  religious  and  political  sentiments  then 
prevalent  throughout  the  country,  was  more  formidable  to  him- 
self than  to  the  enemy.  The  Scots,  encouraged  by  the  heads 
of  the  English  opposition,  and  feebly  resisted  by  the  English 
forces,  marched  across  the  Tweed  and  the  Tyne,  and  encamped 
on  the  borders  of  Yorkshire.  And  now  the  murmurs  of  dis- 
content swelled  into  an  uproar  by  which  all  spirits  save  one 
were  overawed.  But  the  voice  of  Strafford  was  still  for 
Thorough ;  and  he,  even  in  this  extremity,  showed  a  nature  so 
cruel  and  despotic,  that  his  own  pikemen  were  ready  to  tear 
him  in  pieces. 

There  was  yet  one  last  expedient  which,  as  the  King  flattered 
himself,  might  save  him  from  the  misery  of  facing  another 
House  of  Commons.  To  the  House  of  Lords  he  was  less 
averse.  The  Bishops  were  devoted  to  him ;  and,  though  the 
temporal  peers  were  generally  dissatisfied  with  his  adminis- 
tration,  they  were,  as   a   class,    so  deeply   interested   in  the 


maintenance  of  order,  and  in  the  stability  of  ancient  institutions, 
that  they  were  not  likely  to  call  for  extensive  reforms. 
Departing  from  the  uninterrupted  practice  of  centuries,  he 
called  a  Great  Council  consisting  of  Lords  alone.  But  the 
Lords  were  too  prudent  to  assume  the  unconstitutional 
functions  with  which  he  wished  to  invest  them.  Without  money, 
without  credit,  without  authority  even  in  his  own  camp,  he 
yielded  to  the  pressure  of  necessity.  The  Houses  were 
convoked  ;  and  the  elections  proved  that,  since  the  spring,  the 
distrust  and  hatred  with  which  the  government  was  regarded 
had  made  fearful  progress. 

In  November  1640  met  that  renowned  Parliament  which,  in 
spite  of  many  errors  and  disasters,  is  justly  entitled  to  the 
reverence  and  gratitude  of  all  who,  in  any  part  of  the  world, 
enjoy  the  blessings  of  constitutional  government. 

During  the  year  which  followed,  no  very  important  division 
of  opinion  appeared  in  the  Houses.  The  civil  and  ecclesiastical 
administration  had,  through  a  period  of  near  twelve  years,  been 
so  oppressive  and  so  unconstitutional  that  even  those  classes 
of  which  the  inclinations  are  generally  on  the  side  of  order  and 
authority  were  eager  to  promote  popular  reforms,  and  to  bring 
the  instruments  of  tyranny  to  justice.  It  was  enacted  that  no 
interval  of  more  than  three  years  should  ever  elapse  between 
Parliament  and  Parliament,  and  that,  if  writs  under  the  Great 
Seal  were  not  issued  at  the  proper  time,  the  returning  officers 
should,  without  such  writs,  call  the  constituent  bodies  together 
for  the  choice  of  representatives.  The  Star  Chamber,  the 
High  Commission,  the  Council  of  York  were  swept  away. 
Men  who,  after  suffering  cruel  mutilations,  had  been  confined 
in  remote  dungeons,  regained  their  liberty.  On  the  chief 
ministers  of  the  crown  the  vengeance  of  the  nation  was  un- 
sparingly wreaked.  The  Lord  Keeper,  the  Primate,  the  Lord 
Lieutenant  were  impeached.  Finch  saved  himself  by  flight. 
Laud  was  flung  into  the  Tower.  Strafford  was  impeached,  and 
at  length  put  to  death  by  act  of  attainder.  On  the  same  day 
on  which  this  act  passed,  the  King  gave  his  assent  to  a  law 
by  which  he  bound  himself  not  to  adjourn,  prorogue,  or 
dissolve  the  existing  Parliament  without  its  own  consent. 

After  ten  months  of  assiduous  toil,  the  Houses,  in  September 
1641,  adjourned  for  a  short  vacation,  and  the  King  visited 
Scotland.  He  with  difficulty  pacified  that  kingdom  by  consent- 
ing not  only  to  relinquish  his  plans  of  ecclesiastical  reform,  but 
even  to  pass,  with  a  very  bad  grace,  an  act  declaring  that 
episcopacy  was  contrary  to  the  word  of  God. 


The  recess  of  the  English  Parliament  lasted  six  weeks.  The 
day  on  which  the  Houses  met  again  is  one  of  the  most  remark- 
able epochs  in  our  history.  From  that  day  dates  the  corporate 
existence  of  the  two  great  parties  which  have  ever  since 
alternately  governed  the  country.  In  one  sense,  indeed,  the 
distinction  which  then  became  obvious  had  always  existed,  and 
always  must  exist.  For  it  has  its  origin  in  diversities  of  temper, 
of  understanding,  and  of  interest,  which  are  found  in  all 
societies,  and  which  will  be  found  till  the  human  mind  ceases 
to  be  drawn  in  opposite  directions  by  the  charm  of  habit  and  by 
the  charm  of  novelty.  Not  only  in  politics,  but  in  literature, 
in  art,  in  science,  in  surgery  and  mechanics,  in  navigation  and 
agriculture,  nay,  even  in  mathematics,  we  find  this  distinction. 
Everywhere  there  is  a  class  of  men  who  cling  with  fondness  to 
whatever  is  ancient,  and  who,  even  when  convinced  by  over- 
powering reasons  that  innovation  would  be  beneficial,  consent 
to  it  with  many  misgivings  and  forebodings.  We  find  also 
everywhere  another  class  of  men  sanguine  in  hope,  bold  in 
speculation,  always  pressing  forward,  quick  to  discern  the 
imperfections  of  whatever  exists,  disposed  to  think  lightly  of 
the  risks  and  inconveniences  which  attend  improvements, 
and  disposed  to  give  every  change  credit  for  being  an  improve- 
ment. In  the  sentiments  of  both  classes  there  is  something  to 
approve.  But  of  both  the  best  specimens  will  be  found  not 
far  from  the  common  frontier.  The  extreme  section  of  one 
class  consists  of  bigoted  dotards :  the  extreme  section  of  the 
other  consists  of  shallow  and  reckless  empirics. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  in  our  very  first  Parliaments 
might  have  been  discerned  a  body  of  members  anxious  to 
preserve,  and  a  body  eager  to  reform.  But,  while  the  sessions 
of  the  legislature  were  short,  these  bodies  did  not  take 
definite  and  permanent  forms,  array  themselves  under  re- 
cognised leaders,  or  assume  distinguishing  names,  badges,  and 
war  cries.  During  the  first  months  of  the  Long  Parliament, 
the  indignation  excited  by  many  years  of  lawless  oppression 
was  so  strong  and  general  that  the  House  of  Commons  acted 
as  one  man.  Abuse  after  abuse  disappeared  without  a  struggle. 
If  a  small  minority  of  the  representative  body  wished  to  retain 
the  Star  Chamber  and  the  High  Commission,  that  minority, 
overawed  by  the  enthusiasm  and  by  the  numerical  superiority 
of  the  reformers,  contented  itself  with  secretly  regretting 
institutions  which  could  not,  with  any  hope  of  success,  be 
openly  defended.  At  a  later  period  the  Royalists  found  it 
convenient  to  antedate  the  separation  between  themselves  and 


their  opponents,  and  to  attribute  the  Act  which  restrained  the 
King  from  dissolving  or  proroguing  the  Parliament,  the 
Triennial  Act,  the  impeachment  of  the  ministers,  and  the 
attainder  of  Strafford,  to  the  faction  which  afterwards  made  war 
on  the  King.  But  no  artifice  could  be  more  disingenuous. 
Every  one  of  those  strong  measures  was  actively  promoted  by 
the  men  who  were  afterwards  foremost  among  the  Cavaliers. 
No  repubUcan  spoke  of  the  long  misgovernment  of  Charles 
more  severely  than  Colepepper.  The  most  remarkable  speech 
in  favour  of  the  Triennial  Bill  was  made  by  Digby.  The  im- 
peachment of  the  Lord  Keeper  was  moved  by  Falkland.  The 
demand  that  the  Lord  Lieutenant  should  be  kept  close  prisoner 
was  made  at  the  bar  of  the  Lords  by  Hyde.  Not  till  the  law 
attainting  Strafford  was  proposed  did  the  signs  of  serious  dis- 
union become  visible.  Even  against  that  law,  a  law  which 
nothing  but  extreme  necessity  could  justify,  only  about  sixty 
members  of  the  House  of  Commons  voted.  It  is  certain  that 
Hyde  was  not  in  the  minority,  and  that  Falkland  not  only 
voted  with  the  majority,  but  spoke  strongly  for  the  bill.  Even 
the  few  who  entertained  a  scruple  about  inflicting  death  by  a 
retrospective  enactment  thought  it  necessary  to  express  the 
utmost  abhorrence  of  Strafford's  character  and  administration. 

But  under  this  apparent  concord  a  great  schism  was  latent; 
and  when,  in  October  1641,  the  Parliament  re-assembled  after 
a  short  recess,  two  hostile  parties,  essentially  the  same  with 
those  which,  under  different  names,  have  ever  since  contended, 
and  are  still  contending,  for  the  direction  of  public  affairs, 
appeared  confronting  each  other.  During  some  years  they 
were  designated  as  Cavaliers  and  Roundheads.  They  were 
subsequently  called  Tories  and  Whigs ;  nor  does  it  seem  that 
these  appellations  are  likely  soon  to  become  obsolete. 

It  would  not  be  difficult  to  compose  a  lampoon  or  a  pane- 
gyric on  either  of  these  renowned  factions.  For  no  man  not 
utterly  destitute  of  judgment  and  candour  will  deny  that  there 
are  many  deep  stains  on  the  fame  of  the  party  to  which  he 
belongs,  or  that  the  party  to  which  he  is  opposed  may  justly 
boast  of  many  illustrious  names,  of  many  heroic  actions,  and 
of  many  great  services  rendered  to  the  State.  The  truth  is 
that,  though  both  parties  have  often  seriously  erred,  England 
could  have  spared  neither.  If,  in  her  institutions,  freedom  and 
order,  the  advantages  arising  from  innovation  and  the  advantages 
arising  from  prescription,  have  been  combined  to  an  extent 
elsewhere  unknown,  we  may  attribute  this  happy  peculiarity  to 
the  strenuous   conflicts  and   alternate   victories   of  two   rival 


confederacies  of  statesmen,  a  confederacy  zealous  for  authority 
and  antiquity,  and  a  confederacy  zealous  for  liberty  and 

It  ought  to  be  remembered  that  the  difference  between  the 
two  great  sections  of  English  politicians  has  always  been  a 
difference  rather  of  degree  than  of  principle.  There  were 
certain  limits  on  the  right  and  on  the  left,  which  were  very 
rarely  overstepped.  A  few  enthusiasts  on  one  side  were  ready 
to  lay  all  our  laws  and  franchises  at  the  feet  of  our  Kings.  A 
few  enthusiasts  on  the  other  side  were  bent  on  pursuing, 
through  endless  civil  troubles,  their  darling  phantom  of  a 
repubhc.  But  the  great  majority  of  those  who  fought  for  the 
crown  were  averse  to  despotism  ;  and  the  great  majority  of 
the  champions  of  popular  rights  were  averse  to  anarchy. 
Twice,  in  the  course  of  the  seventeenth  century,  the  two 
parties  suspended  their  dissensions,  and  united  their  strength 
in  a  common  cause.  Their  first  coalition  restored  hereditary 
monarchy.  Their  second  coalition  rescued  constitutional 

It  is  also  to  be  noted  that  these  two  parties  have  never  been 
the  whole  nation,  nay,  that  they  have  never,  taken  together, 
made  up  a  majority  of  the  nation.  Between  them  has  always 
been  a  great  mass,  which  has  not  steadfastly  adhered  to  either, 
which  has  sometimes  remained  inertly  neutral,  and  has  some- 
times oscillated  to  and  fro.  That  mass  has  more  than  once 
passed  in  a  few  years  from  one  extreme  to  the  other,  and  back 
again.  Sometimes  it  has  changed  sides,  merely  because  it  was 
tired  of  supporting  the  same  men^  sometimes  because  it  was 
dismayed  by  its  own  excesses,  sometimes  because  it  had 
expected  impossibilities,  and  had  been  disappointed.  But, 
whenever  it  has  leaned  with  its  whole  weight  in  either  direction, 
resistance  has,  for  the  time,  been  impossible. 

When  the  rival  parties  first  appeared  in  a  distinct  form,  they 
seemed  to  be  not  unequally  matched.  On  the  side  of  the 
government  was  a  large  majority  of  the  nobles,  and  of  those 
opulent  and  well  descended  gentlemen  to  whom  nothing  was 
wanting  of  nobility  but  the  name.  These,  with  the  dependents 
whose  support  they  could  command,  were  no  small  power  in 
the  state.  On  the  same  side  were  the  great  body  of  the  clergy, 
both  the  Universities,  and  all  those  laymen  who  were  strongly 
attached  to  episcopal  government  and  to  the  Anglican  ritual. 
These  respectable  classes  found  themselves  in  the  company  of 
some  allies  much  less  decorous  than  themselves.  The  Puritan 
austerity  drove  to  the  King's  faction  all  who  made  pleasure 


their  business,  who  affected  gallantry,  splendour  of  dress,  or 
taste  in  the  lighter  arts.  With  these  went  all  who  live  by 
amusing  the  leisure  of  others,  from  the  painter  and  the  comic 
poet,  down  to  the  ropedancer  and  the  Merry  Andrew.  For 
these  artists  well  knew  that  they  might  thrive  under  a  superb 
and  luxurious  despotism,  but  must  starve  under  the  rigid  rule 
of  the  precisians.  In  the  same  interest  were  the  Roman 
Catholics  to  a  man.  The  Queen,  a  daughter  of  France,  was 
of  their  own  faith.  Her  husband  was  known  to  be  strongly 
attached  to  her,  and  not  a  little  in  awe  of  her.  Though 
undoubtedly  a  Protestant  on  conviction,  he  regarded  the  pro- 
fessors of  the  old  religion  with  no  ill  will,  and  would  gladly 
have  granted  them  a  much  larger  toleration  than  he  was  dis- 
posed to  concede  to  the  Presbyterians.  If  the  opposition 
obtained  the  mastery,  it  was  probable  that  the  sanguinary  laws 
enacted  against  Papists,  in  the  reign  of  Elizabeth,  would  be 
severely  enforced.  The  Roman  Catholics  were  therefore 
induced  by  the  strongest  motives  to  espouse  the  cause  of  the 
court.  They  in  general  acted  with  a  caution  which  brought 
on  them  the  reproach  of  cowardice  and  lukewarmness  :  but  it 
is  probable  that,  in  maintaining  great  reserve,  they  consulted 
the  King's  interest  as  well  as  their  own.  It  was  not  for  his 
service  that  they  should  be  conspicuous  among  his  friends. 

The  main  strength  of  the  opposition  lay  among  the  small 
freeholders  in  the  country,  and  among  the  merchants  and 
shopkeepers  of  the  towns.  But  these  were  headed  by  a 
formidable  minority  of  the  aristocracy,  a  minority  which 
included  the  rich  and  powerful  Earls  of  Northumberland,  Bed- 
ford, Warwick,  Stamford,  and  Essex,  and  several  other  Lords 
of  great  wealth  and  influence.  In  the  same  ranks  was  found 
the  whole  body  of  Protestant  Nonconformists,  and  most  of 
\hose  members  of  the  Established  Church  who  still  adhered  to 
the  Calvinistic  opinions  which,  forty  years  before,  had  been 
generally  held  by  the  prelates  and  clergy.  The  municipal 
corporations  took,  with  few  exceptions,  the  same  side.  In  the 
House  of  Commons  the  opposition  preponderated,  but  not 
very  decidedly. 

Neither  party  wanted  strong  arguments  for  the  measures 
which  it  was  disposed  to  take.  The  reasonings  of  the  most 
enlightened  RoyaUsts  may  be  summed  up  thus: — "It  is  true 
that  great  abuses  have  existed ;  but  they  have  been  redressed. 
It  is  true  that  precious  rights  have  been  invaded ;  but  they  have 
been  vindicated  and  surrounded  with  new  securities.  The  sittings 
of  the  Estates  of  the  realm  have  been,  in  defiance  of  ail  prece- 


dent  and  of  the  spirit  of  the  constitution,  intermitted  during 
eleven  years ;  but  it  has  now  been  provided  that  henceforth 
three  years  shall  never  elapse  without  a  Parliament.  The  Star 
Chamber,  the  High  Commission,  the  Council  of  York,  oppressed 
and  plundered  us ;  but  those  hateful  courts  have  now  ceased  to 
exist.  The  Lord  Lieutenant  aimed  at  establishing  military 
despotism  ;  but  he  has  answered  for  his  treason  with  his  head. 
The  Primate  tainted  our  worship  with  Popish  rites,  and 
punished  our  scruples  with  Popish  cruelty ;  but  he  is  awaiting 
in  the  Tower  the  judgment  of  his  peers.  The  Lord  Keeper 
sanctioned  a  plan,  by  which  the  property  of  every  man  in 
England  was  placed  at  the  mercy  of  the  crown  ;  but  he  has 
been  disgraced,  ruined,  and  compelled  to  take  refuge  in  a 
foreign  land.  The  ministers  of  tyranny  have  expiated  their 
crimes.  The  victims  of  tyranny  have  been  compensated  for 
their  sufferings.  Under  such  circumstances  it  would  be  most 
unwise  to  persevere  in  that  course  which  was  justifiable  and 
necessary  when  we  first  met,  after  a  long  interval,  and  found 
the  whole  administration  one  mass  of  abuses.  It  is  time  to  take 
heed  that  we  do  not  so  pursue  our  victory  over  despotism  as  to 
run  into  anarchy.  It  was  not  in  our  power  to  overturn  the  bad 
institutions  which  lately  afflicted  our  country,  without  shocks 
which  have  loosened  the  foundations  of  government.  Now 
that  those  institutions  have  fallen  we  must  hasten  to  prop  the 
edifice  which  it  was  lately  our  duty  to  batter.  Henceforth 
it  will  be  our  wisdom  to  look  with  jealousy  on  schemes  of  in- 
novation, and  to  guard  from  encroachment  all  the  prerogatives 
with  which  the  law  has,  for  the  public  good,  armed  the  sovereign." 
Such  were  the  views  of  those  men  of  whom  the  excellent 
Falkland  may  be  regarded  as  the  leader.  It  was  contended  on 
the  other  side  with  not  less  force,  by  men  of  not  less  ability 
and  virtue,  that  the  safety  which  the  liberties  of  the  English 
people  enjoyed  was  rather  apparent  than  real,  and  that  the 
arbitrary  projects  of  the  court  would  be  resumed  as  soon  as  the 
vigilance  of  the  Commons  was  relaxed.  True  it  was, — such 
was  the  reasoning  of  Pym,  of  HoUis,  and  of  Hampden, — that 
many  good  laws  had  been  passed  :  but,  if  good  laws  had  been 
sufficient  to  restrain  the  King,  his  subjects  would  have  had 
little  reason  ever  to  complain  of  his  administration.  The 
recent  statutes  were  surely  not  of  more  authority  than  the 
Great  Charter  or  the  Petition  of  Right.  Yet  neither  the  Great 
Charter,  hallowed  by  the  veneration  of  four  centuries,  nor  the 
Petition  of  Right,  sanctioned,  after  mature  reflection,  and  for 
valuable  consideration,  by  Charles  himself,  had  been  found 


effectual  for  the  protection  of  the  people.  If  once  the  check 
of  fear  were  withdrawn,  if  once  the  spirit  of  opposition  were 
suffered  to  slumber,  all  the  securities  for  English  freedom 
resolved  themselves  into  a  single  one,  the  royal  word  ;  and  it 
had  been  proved  by  a  long  and  severe  experience  that  the  royal 
word  could  not  be  trusted. 

The  two  parties  were  still  regarding  each  other  with  cautious 
hostility,  and  had  not  yet  measured  their  strength,  when  news 
arrived  which  inflamed  the  passions  and  confirmed  the  opinions 
of  both.  The  great  chieftains  of  Ulster,  who,  at  the  time  of 
the  accession  of  James,  had,  after  a  long  struggle,  submitted  to 
the  royal  authority,  had  not  long  brooked  the  humiliation  of 
dependence.  They  had  conspired  against  the  English  govern- 
ment, and  had  been  attainted  of  treason.  Their  immense 
domains  had  been  forfeited  to  the  crown,  and  had  soon  been 
peopled  by  thousands  of  English  and  Scotch  emigrants.  The 
new  settlers  were,  in  civilisation  and  intelligence,  far  superior 
to  the  native  population,  and  sometimes  abused  their  superiority. 
The  animosity  produced  by  difference  of  race  was  increased  by 
difference  of  religion.  Under  the  iron  rule  of  Wentworth, 
scarcely  a  murmur  was  heard  :  but,  when  that  strong  pressure 
was  withdrawn,  when  Scotland  had  set  the  example  of  successful 
resistance,  when  England  was  distracted  by  internal  quarrels, 
the  smothered  rage  of  the  Irish  broke  forth  into  acts  of  fearful 
violence.  On  a  sudden,  the  aboriginal  population  rose  on  the 
colonists.  A  war,  to  which  national  and  theological  hatred 
gave  a  character  of  peculiar  ferocity,  desolated  Ulster,  and 
spread  to  the  neighbouring  provinces.  The  castle  of  Dublin 
was  scarcely  thought  secure.  Every  post  brought  to  London 
exaggerated  accounts  of  outrages  which,  without  any  exaggera- 
tion, were  sufficient  to  move  pity  and  horror.  These  evil 
tidings  roused  to  the  height  the  zeal  of  both  the  great  parties 
which  were  marshalled  against  each  other  at  Westminster. 
The  Royalists  maintained  that  it  was  the  first  duty  of  every 
good  Englishman  and  Protestant,  at  such  a  crisis,  to  strengthen 
the  hands  of  the  sovereign.  To  the  opposition  it  seemed  that 
there  were  now  stronger  reasons  than  ever  for  thwarting  and 
restraining  him.  That  the  commonwealth  was  in  danger  was 
undoubtedly  a  good  reason  for  giving  large  powers  to  a  trust- 
worthy magistrate :  but  it  was  a  good  reason  for  taking  away 
powers  from  a  magistrate  who  was  at  heart  a  public  enemy. 
To  raise  a  great  army  had  always  been  the  King's  first  object. 
A  great  army  must  now  be  raised.  It  was  to  be  feared  that, 
unless  some  new  securities  were  devised,  the  forces  levied  for 


the  reduction  of  Ireland  would  be  employed  against  the  liberties 
of  England.  Nor  was  this  all.  A  horrible  suspicion,  unjust 
indeed,  but  not  altogether  unnatural,  had  arisen  in  many  minds. 
The  Queen  was  an  avowed  Roman  Catholic :  the  King  was 
not  regarded  by  the  Puritans,  whom  he  had  mercilessly  per- 
secuted, as  a  sincere  Protestant ;  and  so  notorious  was  his 
duplicity,  that  there  was  no  treachery  of  which  his  subjects 
might  not,  with  some  show  of  reason,  believe  him  capable.  It 
was  soon  whispered  that  the  rebellion  of  the  Roman  Catholics 
of  Ulster  was  part  of  a  vast  work  of  darkness  which  had  been 
planned  at  Whitehall. 

After  some  weeks  of  prelude,  the  first  great  parliamentary 
conflict  between  the  parties  which  have  ever  since  contended, 
and  are  still  contending,  for  the  government  of  the  nation,  took 
place  on  the  twenty-second  of  November  1641.  It  was  moved 
by  the  opposition,  that  the  House  of  Commons  should  present 
to  the  King  a  remonstrance,  enumerating  the  faults  of  his 
administration  from  the  time  of  his  accession,  and  expressing 
the  distrust  with  which  his  policy  was  still  regarded  by  his 
people.  That  assembly,  which  a  few  months  before  had  been 
unanimous  in  calling  for  the  reform  of  abuses,  was  now  divided 
into  two  fierce  and  eager  factions  of  nearly  equal  strength. 
After  a  hot  debate  of  many  hours,  the  remonstrance  was  carried 
by  only  eleven  votes. 

The  result  of  this  struggle  was  highly  favourable  to  the  con- 
servative party.  It  could  not  be  doubted  that  only  some  great 
indiscretion  could  prevent  them  from  shortly  obtaining  the 
predominance  in  the  Lower  House.  The  Upper  House  was 
already  their  own.  Nothing  was  wanting  to  insure  their 
success,  but  that  the  King  should,  in  all  his  conduct,  show 
respect  for  the  laws  and  scrupulous  good  faith  towards  hissubjects. 

His  first  measures  promised  well.  He  had,  it  seemed,  at 
last  discovered  that  an  entire  change  of  system  was  necessary, 
and  had  wisely  made  up  his  mind  to  what  could  no  longer  be 
avoided.  He  declared  his  determination  to  govern  in  harmony 
with  the  Commons,  and,  for  that  end,  to  call  to  his  councils 
men  in  whose  talents  and  character  the  Commons  might  place 
confidence.  Nor  was  the  selection  ill  made.  Falkland,  Hyde, 
and  Colepepper,  all  three  distinguished  by  the  part  which  they 
had  taken  in  reforming  abuses  and  in  punishing  evil  ministers, 
were  invited  to  become  the  confidential  advisers  of  the  crown, 
and  were  solemnly  assured  by  Charles  that  he  would  take  no 
step  in  any  way  affecting  the  Lower  House  of  Parliament 
without  their  privity. 


Had  he  kept  this  promise,  it  cannot  be  doubted  that  the 
reaction  which  was  aheady  in  progress  would  very  soon  have 
become  quite  as  strong  as  the  most  respectable  Royalists  would 
have  desired.  Already  the  violent  members  of  the  opposition 
had  begun  to  despair  of  the  fortunes  of  their  party,  to  tremble 
for  their  own  safety,  and  to  talk  of  seUing  their  estates  and 
emigrating  to  America.  That  the  fair  prospects  which  had 
begun  to  open  before  the  King  were  suddenly  overcast,  that 
his  life  was  darkened  by  adversity,  and  at  length  shortened 
by  violence,  is  to  be  attributed  to  his  own  faithlessness  and 
contempt  of  law. 

The  truth  seems  to  be  that  he  detested  both  the  parties  into 
which  the  House  of  Commons  was  divided :  nor  is  this 
strange ;  for  in  both  those  parties  the  love  of  liberty  and  the 
love  of  order  were  mingled,  though  in  different  proportions. 
The  advisers  whom  necessity  had  compelled  him  to  call  round 
him  were  by  no  means  men  after  his  own  heart.  They  had 
joined  in  condemning  his  tyranny,  in  abridging  his  power,  and 
in  punishing  his  instruments.  They  were  now  indeed  prepared 
to  defend  by  strictly  legal  means  his  strictly  legal  prerogatives ; 
but  they  would  have  recoiled  with  horror  from  the  thought  of 
reviving  Wentworth's  projects  of  Thorough.  They  were,  there- 
fore, in  the  King's  opinion,  traitors,  who  diftered  only  in  the 
degree  of  their  seditious  malignity  from  Pym  and  Hampden. 

He  accordingly,  a  few  days  after  he  had  promised  the  chiefs 
of  the  constitutional  Royalists  that  no  step  of  importance 
should  be  taken  without  their  knowledge,  formed  a  resolution 
the  most  momentous  of  his  whole  life,  carefully  concealed  that 
resolution  from  them,  and  executed  it  in  a  manner  which 
overwhelmed  them  with  shame  and  dismay.  He  sent  the 
Attorney  General  to  impeach  Pym,  HoUis,  Hampden,  and 
other  members  of  the  House  of  Commons  of  high  treason  at 
the  bar  of  the  House  of  Lords.  Not  content  with  this  flagrant 
violation  of  the  Great  Charter  and  of  the  uninterrupted  practice 
of  centuries,  he  went  in  person,  accompanied  by  armed  men, 
to  seize  the  leaders  of  the  opposition  within  the  walls  of 

The  attempt  failed.  The  accused  members  had  left  the 
House  a  short  time  before  Charles  entered  it.  A  sudden 
and  violent  revulsion  of  feeling,  both  in  the  Parliament  and  in 
the  country,  followed.  The  most  favourable  view  that  has 
ever  been  taken  of  the  King's  conduct  on  this  occasion  by  his 
most  partial  advocates  is  that  he  had  weakly  suffered  himself 
to  be  hurried  into  a  gross  indiscretion  by  the  evil  counsels  of 


his  wife  and  of  his  courtiers.  But  the  general  voice  loudly 
charged  him  with  far  deeper  guilt.  At  the  very  moment  at 
which  his  subjects,  after  a  long  estrangement  produced  by  his 
maladministration,  were  returning  to  him  with  feelings  of 
confidence  and  affection,  he  had  aimed  a  deadly  blow  at  all 
their  dearest  rights,  at  the  privileges  of  Parliament,  at  the  very 
principle  of  trial  by  jury.  He  had  shown  that  he  considered 
opposition  to  his  arbitrary  designs  as  a  crime  to  be  expiated 
only  by  blood.  He  had  broken  faith,  not  only  with  his  Great 
Council  and  with  his  people,  but  with  his  own  adherents.  He 
had  done  what,  but  for  an  unforeseen  accident,  would  probably 
have  produced  a  bloody  conflict  round  the  Speaker's  chair. 
Those  who  had  the  chief  sway  in  the  Lower  House  now  felt 
that  not  only  their  power  and  popularity,  but  their  lands  and 
their  necks,  were  staked  on  the  event  of  the  struggle  in  which 
they  were  engaged.  The  flagging  zeal  of  the  party  opposed  to 
the  court  revived  in  an  instant.  During  the  night  which  followed 
the  outrage  the  whole  City  of  London  was  in  arms.  In  a  few 
hours  the  roads  leading  to  the  capital  were  covered  with  mul- 
titudes of  yeomen  spurring  hard  to  Westminster  with  the 
badges  of  the  parliamentary  cause  in  their  hats.  In  the  House 
of  Commons  the  opposition  became  at  once  irresistible,  and 
carried,  by  more  than  two  votes  to  one,  resolutions  of  unpre- 
cedented violence.  Strong  bodies  of  the  trainbands,  regularly 
relieved,  mounted  guard  round  Westminster  Hall.  The  gates 
of  the  King's  palace  were  daily  besieged  by  a  furious  multitude 
whose  taunts  and  execrations  were  heard  even  in  the  presence 
chamber,  and  who  could  scarcely  be  kept  out  of  the  royal 
apartments  by  the  gentlemen  of  the  household.  Had  Charles 
remained  much  longer  in  his  stormy  capital,  it  is  probable  that 
the  Commons  would  have  found  a  plea  for  making  him,  under 
outward  forms  of  respect,  a  state  prisoner. 

He  quitted  London,  never  to  return  till  the  day  of  a  terrible 
and  memorable  reckoning  had  arrived.  A  negotiation  began 
which  occupied  many  months.  Accusations  and  recriminations 
passed  backward  and  forward  between  the  contending  parties. 
All  accommodation  had  become  impossible.  The  sure  punish- 
ment which  waits  on  habitual  perfidy  had  at  length  overtaken 
the  King.  It  was  to  no  purpose  that  he  now  pawned  his  royal 
word,  and  invoked  heaven  to  witness  the  sincerity  of  his 
professions.  The  distrust  with  which  his  adversaries  regarded 
him  was  not  to  be  removed  by  oaths  or  treaties.  They  were 
convinced  that  they  could  be  safe  only  when  he  was  utterly 
helpless.     Their  demand,  therefore,  was,  that  he  should  sur- 


render,  not  only  those  prerogatives  which  he  had  usurped  in 
violation  of  ancient  laws  and  of  his  own  recent  promises,  but 
also  other  prerogatives  which  the  English  Kings  had  possessed 
from  time  immemorial,  and  continue  to  possess  at  the  present 
day.  No  minister  must  be  appointed,  no  peer  created  without 
the  consent  of  the  Houses.  Above  all,  the  sovereign  must 
resign  that  supreme  military  authority  which,  from  time  beyond 
all  memory,  had  appertained  to  the  regal  office. 

That  Charles  would  comply  with  such  demands  while  he 
had  any  means  of  resistance  was  not  to  be  expected.  Yet  it 
will  be  difficult  to  show  that  the  Houses  could  safely  have 
exacted  less.  They  were  truly  in  a  most  embarrassing  position. 
The  great  majority  of  the  nation  was  firmly  attached  to  heredi- 
tary monarchy.  Those  who  held  republican  opinions  were  as 
yet  few,  and  did  not  venture  to  speak  out.  It  was  therefore 
impossible  to  abolish  kingly  government.  Yet  it  was  plain 
that  no  confidence  could  be  placed  in  the  King.  It  would 
have  been  absurd  in  those  who  knew,  by  recent  proof,  that  he 
was  bent  on  destroying  them,  to  content  themselves  with 
presenting  to  him  another  Petition  of  Right,  and  receiving 
from  him  fresh  promises  similar  to  those  which  he  had 
repeatedly  made  and  broken.  Nothing  but  the  want  of  an 
army  had  prevented  him  from  entirely  subverting  the  old 
constitution  of  the  realm.  It  was  now  necessary  to  levy  a 
great  regular  army  for  the  conquest  of  Ireland ;  and  it  would 
therefore  have  been  mere  insanity  to  leave  him  in  possession 
of  that  plenitude  of  military  authority  which  his  ancestors  had 

When  a  country  is  in  the  situation  in  which  England  then 
was,  when  the  kingly  office  is  regarded  with  love  and  venera- 
tion, but  the  person  who  fills  that  office  is  hated  and  distrusted, 
it  should  seem  that  the  course  which  ought  to  be  taken  is 
obvious.  The  dignity  of  the  office  should  be  preserved ;  the 
person  should  be  discarded.  Thus  our  ancestors  acted  in 
1399  and  in  1689.  Had  there  been,  in  1642,  any  man 
occupying  a  position  similar  to  that  which  Henry  of  Lancaster 
occupied  at  the  time  of  the  deposition  of  Richard  the  Second, 
and  which  the  Prince  of  Orange  occupied  at  the  time  of  the 
deposition  of  James  the  Second,  it  is  probable  that  the  Houses 
would  have  changed  the  dynasty,  and  would  have  made  no 
formal  change  in  the  constitution.  The  new  King,  called  to 
the  throne  by  their  choice,  and  dependent  on  their  support, 
would  have  been  under  the  necessity  of  governing  in  conformity 
with  their  wishes  and  opinions.     But  there  was  no  prince  of 


the  blood  royal  in  the  parliamentary  party ;  and,  though  that 
party  contained  many  men  of  high  rank  and  many  men  of 
eminent  ability,  there  was  none  who  towered  so  conspicuously 
above  the  rest  that  he  could  be  proposed  as  a  candidate  for 
the  crown.  As  there  was  to  be  a  King,  and  as  no  new  King 
was  to  be  found,  it  was  necessary  to  leave  the  regal  title  to 
Charles.  Only  one  course,  therefore,  was  left :  and  that  was 
to  disjoin  the  regal  title  from  the  regal  prerogatives. 

The  change  which  the  Houses  proposed  to  make  in  our 
institutions,  though  it  seems  exorbitant,  when  distinctly  set 
forth  and  digested  into  articles  of  capitulation,  really  amounts 
to  little  more  than  the  change  which,  in  the  next  generation, 
was  effected  by  the  Revolution.  It  is  true  that,  at  the 
Revolution,  the  sovereign  was  not  deprived  by  law  of  the 
power  of  naming  his  ministers :  but  it  is  equally  true  that, 
since  the  Revolution,  no  ministry  has  been  able  to  remain  in 
office  six  months  in  opposition  to  the  sense  of  the  House  of 
Commons.  It  is  true  that  the  sovereign  still  possesses  the 
power  of  creating  peers,  and  the  more  important  power  of  the 
sword  :  but  it  is  equally  true  that  in  the  exercise  of  these 
powers  the  sovereign  has,  ever  since  the  Revolution,  been 
guided  by  advisers  who  possess  the  confidence  of  the  repre- 
sentatives of  the  nation.  In  fact,  the  leaders  of  the  Round- 
head party  in  1642,  and  the  statesmen  who,  about  half  a 
century  later,  effected  the  Revolution,  had  exactly  the  same 
object  in  view.  That  object  was  to  terminate  the  contest 
between  the  crown  and  the  Parliament,  by  giving  to  the 
Parliament  a  supreme  control  over  the  executive  administra- 
tion. The  statesmen  of  the  Revolution  effected  this  indirectly 
by  changing  the  dynasty.  The  Roundheads  of  1642,  being 
unable  to  change  the  dynasty,  were  compelled  to  take  a  direct 
course  towards  their  end. 

We  cannot,  however,  wonder  that  the  demands  of  the 
opposition,  importing  as  they  did  a  complete  and  formal 
transfer  to  the  Parliament  of  powers  which  had  always 
belonged  to  the  Crown,  should  have  shocked  that  great  party 
of  which  the  characteristics  are  respect  for  constituted 
authority  and  dread  of  violent  innovation.  That  party  had 
recently  been  in  hopes  of  obtaining  by  peaceable  means  the 
ascendency  in  the  House  of  Commons  ;  but  every  such  hope 
had  been  blighted.  The  duplicity  of  Charles  had  made  his 
old  enemies  irreconcileable,  had  driven  back  into  the  ranks  of 
the  disaffected  a  crowd  of  moderate  men  who  were  in  the  very 
act  of  coming  over  to  his  side,  and  had  so  cruelly  mortified  his 


best  friends  that  they  had  for  a  time  stood  aloof  in  silent 
shame  and  resentment.  Now,  however,  the  constitutional 
Royalists  were  forced  to  make  their  choice  between  two 
dangers ;  and  they  thought  it  their  duty  rather  to  rally  round  a 
prince  whose  past  conduct  they  condemned,  and  whose  word 
inspired  them  with  little  confidence,  than  to  suffer  the  regal 
office  to  be  degraded,  and  the  polity  of  the  realm  to  be  entirely 
remodelled.  With  such  feelings,  many  men  whose  virtues  and 
abilities  would  have  done  honour  to  any  cause  ranged  them- 
selves on  the  side  of  the  King. 

In  August  1642  the  sword  was  at  length  drawn;  and  soon, 
in  almost  every  shire  of  the  kingdom,  two  hostile  factions 
appeared  in  arms  against  each  other.  It  is  not  easy  to  say 
which  of  the  contending  parties  was  at  first  the  more  formid- 
able. The  Houses  commanded  London  and  the  counties 
round  London,  the  fleet,  the  navigation  of  the  Thames,  and 
most  of  the  large  towns  and  seaports.  They  had  at  their 
disposal  almost  all  the  military  stores  of  the  kingdom,  and 
were  able  to  raise  duties,  both  on  goods  imported  from  foreign 
countries,  and  on  some  important  products  of  domestic 
industry.  The  King  was  ill  provided  with  artillery  and 
ammunition.  The  taxes  which  he  laid  on  the  rural  districts 
occupied  by  his  troops  produced,  it  is  probable,  a  sum  far  less 
than  that  which  the  Parliament  drew  from  the  city  of  London 
alone.  He  relied,  indeed,  chiefly,  for  pecuniary  aid,  on  the 
munificence  of  his  opulent  adherents.  Many  of  these 
mortgaged  their  land,  pawned  their  jewels,  and  broke  up 
their  silver  chargers  and  christening  bowls,  in  order  to  assist 
him.  But  experience  has  fully  proved  that  the  voluntary 
liberality  of  individuals,  even  in  times  of  the  greatest  excite- 
ment, is  a  poor  financial  resource  when  compared  with  severe 
and  methodical  taxation,  which  presses  on  the  willing  and 
unwilling  alike. 

Charles,  however,  had  one  advantage,  which,  if  he  had  used 
it  well,  would  have  more  than  compensated  for  the  want  of 
stores  and  money,  and  which,  notwithstanding  his  misrnanage- 
ment,  gave  him,  during  some  months,  a  superiority  in  the  war. 
His  troops  at  first  fought  much  better  than  those  of  the 
Parliament.  Both  armies,  it  is  true,  were  almost  entirely 
composed  of  men  who  had  never  seen  a  field  of  battle. 
Nevertheless,  the  difference  was  great.  The  parliamentary 
ranks  were  filled  with  hirelings  whom  want  and  idleness  had 
induced  to  enlist.  Hampden's  regiment  was  regarded  as  one 
of  the  best ;  and  even  Hampden's  regiment  was  described  by 


Cromwell  as  a  mere  rabble  of  tapsters  and  serving  men  out  of 
place.  The  royal  army,  on  the  other  hand,  consisted  in  great 
part  of  gentlemen,  high  spirited,  ardent,  accustomed  to 
consider  dishonour  as  more  terrible  than  death,  accustomed 
to  fencing,  to  the  use  of  fire  arms,  to  bold  riding,  and  to  manly 
and  perilous  sport,  which  has  been  well  called  the  image  of 
war.  Such  gentlemen,  mounted  on  their  favourite  horses,  and 
commanding  little  bands,  composed  of  their  younger  brothers, 
grooms,  gamekeepers  and  huntsmen,  were,  from  the  very  first 
day  on  which  they  took  the  field,  qualified  to  play  their  part 
with  credit  in  a  skirmish.  The  steadiness,  the  prompt 
obedience,  the  mechanical  precision  of  movement,  which  are 
characteristic  of  the  regular  soldier,  these  gallant  volunteers 
never  attained.  But  they  were  at  first  opposed  to  enemies  as 
undisciplined  as  themselves,  and  far  less  active,  athletic,  and 
daring.  For  a  time,  therefore,  the  Cavaliers  were  successful  in 
almost  every  encounter. 

The  Houses  had  also  been  unfortunate  in  the  choice  of  a 
general.  The  rank  and  wealth  of  the  Earl  of  Essex  made  him 
one  of  the  most  important  members  of  the  parliamentary  party. 
He  had  borne  arms  on  the  Continent  with  credit,  and,  when 
the  war  began,  had  as  high  a  military  reputation  as  any  man  in 
the  country.  But  it  soon  appeared  that  he  was  unfit  for  the 
post  of  Commander  in  Chief.  He  had  little  energy  and  no 
originality.  The  methodical  tactics  which  he  had  learned  in 
the  war  of  the  Palatinate  did  not  save  him  from  the  disgrace 
of  being  surprised  and  baffled  by  such  a  Captain  as  Rupert, 
who  could  claim  no  higher  fame  than  that  of  an  enterprising 

Nor  were  the  officers  who  held  the  chief  commissions  under 
Essex  qualified  to  supply  what  was  wanting  in  him.  For  this, 
indeed,  the  Houses  are  scarcely  to  be  blamed.  In  a  country 
which  had  not,  within  the  memory  of  the  oldest  person  living, 
made  war  on  a  great  scale  by  land,  generals  of  tried  skill  and 
valour  were  not  to  be  found.  It  was  necessary,  therefore,  in 
the  first  instance,  to  trust  untried  men  ;  and  the  preference 
was  naturally  given  to  men  distinguished  either  by  their 
station,  or  by  the  abilities  which  they  had  displayed  in 
parliament.  In  scarcely  a  single  instance,  however,  was  the 
selection  fortunate.  Neither  the  grandees  nor  the  orators 
proved  good  soldiers.  The  Earl  of  Stamford,  one  of  the 
greatest  nobles  of  England,  was  routed  by  the  Royalists  at 
Stratton.  Nathaniel  Fiennes,  inferior  to  none  of  his  contem- 
poraries in  talents  for  civil  business,  disgraced  himself  by  the 


pusillanimous  surrender  of  Bristol,  Indeed,  of  all  the  states- 
men who  at  this  juncture  accepted  high  military  commands, 
Hampden  alone  appears  to  have  carried  into  the  camp  the 
capacity  and  strength  of  mind  which  had  made  him  eminent 
in  politics. 

When  the  war  had  lasted  a  year,  the  advantage  was  decidedly 
with  the  Royalists.  They  were  victorious,  both  in  the  western 
and  in  the  northern  counties.  They  had  wrested  Bristol,  the 
second  city  in  the  kingdom,  from  the  Parliament.  They  had 
won  several  battles,  and  had  not  sustained  a  single  serious  or 
ignominious  defeat.  Among  the  Roundheads  adversity  had 
begun  to  produce  dissension  and  discontent.  The  Parliament 
was  kept  in  alarm,  sometimes  by  plots,  and  sometimes  by 
riots.  It  was  thought  necessary  to  fortify  London  against  the 
royal  army,  and  to  hang  some  disaffected  citizens  at  their  own 
doors.  Several  of  the  most  distinguished  peers  who  had 
hitherto  remained  at  Westminster  fled  to  the  court  at  Oxford ; 
nor  can  it  be  doubted  that,  if  the  operations  of  the  Cavaliers 
had,  at  this  season,  been  directed  by  a  sagacious  and  powerful 
mind,  Charles  would  soon  have  marched  in  triumph  to 

But  the  King  suffered  the  auspicious  moment  to  pass  away ; 
and  it  never  returned.  In  August  1643  he  sate  down  before 
the  city  of  Gloucester.  That  city  was  defended  by  the 
inhabitants  and  by  the  garrison,  with  a  determination  such  as 
had  not,  since  the  commencement  of  the  war,  been  shown  by 
the  adherents  of  the  Parliament.  The  emulation  of  London 
was  excited.  The  trainbands  of  the  City  volunteered  to  march 
wherever  their  services  might  be  required.  A  great  force  was 
speedily  collected,  and  began  to  move  westward.  The  siege 
of  Gloucester  was  raised.  The  Royalists  in  every  part  of  the 
kingdom  were  disheartened  :  the  spirit  of  the  parliamentary 
party  revived  ;  and  the  apostate  Lords,  who  had  lately  fled 
from  Westminster  to  Oxford,  hastened  back  from  Oxford  to 

And  now  a  new  and  alarming  class  of  symptoms  began  to 
appear  in  the  distempered  body  politic.  There  had  been, 
from  the  first,  in  the  parliamentary  party,  some  men  whose 
minds  were  set  on  objects  from  which  the  majority  of  that 
party  would  have  shrunk  with  horror.  These  men  were,  in 
religion.  Independents.  They  conceived  that  every  Christian 
congregation  had,  under  Christ,  supreme  jurisdiction  in  things 
spiritual ;  that  appeals  to  provincial  and  national  synods  were 
scarcely  less  unscriptural  than  appeals  to  the  Court  of  Arches,  or 

D  34 


to  the  Vatican  ;  and  that  Popery,  Prelacy,  and  Presbyterian  ism 
were  merely  three  forms  of  one  great  apostasy.  In  politics  the 
Independents  were,  to  use  the  phrase  of  their  time,  root  and 
branch  men,  or,  to  use  the  kindred  phrase  of  our  own  time, 
radicals.  Not  content  with  limiting  the  power  of  the  monarch, 
they  were  desirous  to  erect  a  commonwealth  on  the  ruins  of 
the  old  English  polity  At  first  they  had  been  inconsiderable, 
both  in  numbers  and  in  weight ;  but  before  the  war  had  lasted 
two  years  they  became,  not  indeed  the  largest,  but  the  most 
powerful  faction  in  the  country.  Some  of  the  old  parlia- 
mentary leaders  had  been  removed  by  death  ;  and  others  had 
forfeited  the  public  confidence.  Pym  had  been  borne,  with 
princely  honours,  to  a  grave  among  the  Plantagenets. 
Hampden  had  fallen,  as  became  him,  while  vainly  endeavour- 
ing, by  his  heroic  example,  to  inspire  his  followers  with 
courage  to  face  the  fiery  cavalry  of  Rupert.  Bedford  had 
been  untrue  to  the  cause.  Northumberland  was  known  to  be 
lukewarm.  Essex  and  his  lieutenants  had  shown  little  vigour 
and  ability  in  the  conduct  of  military  operations.  At  such  a 
conjuncture  it  was  that  the  Independent  party,  ardent,  resolute, 
and  uncompromising,  began  to  raise  its  head,  both  in  the  camp 
and  in  the  House  of  Commons. 

The  soul  of  that  party  was  Oliver  Cromwell.  Bred  to 
peaceful  occupations,  he  had,  at  more  than  forty  years  of  age, 
accepted  a  commission  in  the  parliamentary  army.  No  sooner 
had  he  become  a  soldier  than  he  discerned,  with  the  keen 
glance  of  genius,  what  Essex  and  men  like  Essex,  with  all 
their  experience,  were  unable  to  perceive.  He  saw  precisely 
where  the  strength  of  the  Royalists  lay,  and  by  what  means 
alone  that  strength  could  be  overpowered.  He  saw  that  it 
was  necessary  to  reconstruct  the  army  of  the  Parliament.  He 
saw  also  that  there  were  abundant  and  excellent  materials  for 
the  purpose,  materials  less  showy,  indeed,  but  more  solid,  than 
those  of  which  the  gallant  squadrons  of  the  King  were 
composed.  It  was  necessary  to  look  for  recruits  who  were  not 
mere  mercenaries,  for  recruits  of  decent  station  and  grave 
character,  fearing  God  and  zealous  for  public  liberty.  With 
such  men  he  filled  his  own  regiment,  and,  while  he  subjected 
them  to  a  discipline  more  rigid  than  had  ever  before  been 
known  in  England,  he  administered  to  their  intellectual  and 
moral  nature  stimulants  of  fearful  potency. 

The  events  of  the  year  1644  fully  proved  the  superiority  of 
his  abilities.  In  the  south,  where  Essex  held  the  command, 
the  parliamentary  forces  underwent  a  succession  of  shameful 


disasters ;  but  in  the  north  the  victory  of  Marston  Moor  fully 
compensated  for  all  that  had  been  lost  elsewhere.  That 
victory  was  not  a  more  serious  blow  to  the  Royalists  than  to 
the  party  which  had  hitherto  been  dominant  at  Westminster ; 
for  it  was  notorious  that  the  day,  disgracefully  lost  by  the 
Presbyterians,  had  been  retrieved  by  the  energy  of  Cromwell, 
and  by  the  steady  valour  of  the  warriors  whom  he  had  trained. 

These  events  produced  the  Selfdenying  Ordinance  and  the 
new  model  of  the  army.  Under  decorous  pretexts,  and  with 
every  mark  of  respect,  Essex  and  most  of  those  who  had  held 
high  posts  under  him  were  removed ;  and  the  conduct  of  the 
war  was  intrusted  to  very  different  hands.  Fairfax,  a  brave 
soldier,  but  of  mean  understanding  and  irresolute  temper,  was 
the  nominal  Lord  General  of  the  forces  ;  but  Cromwell  was 
their  real  head. 

Cromwell  made  haste  to  organize  the  whole  army  on  the 
same  principles  on  which  he  had  organized  his  own  regiment. 
As  soon  as  this  process  was  complete,  the  event  of  the  war 
was  decided.  The  Cavaliers  had  now  to  encounter  natural 
courage  equal  to  their  own,  enthusiasm  stronger  than  their 
own,  and  discipline  such  as  was  utterly  wanting  to  them.  It 
soon  became  a  proverb  that  the  soldiers  of  Fairfax  and 
Cromwell  were  men  of  a  different  breed  from  the  soldiers  of 
Essex.  At  Naseby  took  place  the  first  great  encounter 
between  the  Royalists  and  the  remodelled  army  of  the  Houses. 
The  victory  of  the  Roundheads  was  complete  and  decisive. 
It  was  followed  by  other  triumphs  in  rapid  succession.  In 
a  few  months  the  authority  of  the  Parliament  was  fully 
established  over  the  whole  kingdom.  Charles  fled  to  the 
Scots,  and  was  by  them,  in  a  manner  which  did  not  much 
exalt  their  national  character,  delivered  up  to  his  English 

While  the  event  of  the  war  was  still  doubtful,  the  Houses 
had  put  the  Primate  to  death,  had  interdicted,  within  the 
sphere  of  their  authority,  the  use  of  the  Liturgy,  and  had 
required  all  men  to  subscribe  that  renowned  instrument  known 
by  the  name  of  the  Solemn  League  and  Covenant.  When  the 
struggle  was  over,  the  work  of  innovation  and  revenge  was 
pushed  on  v/ith  still  greater  ardour.  The  ecclesiastical  polity 
of  the  kingdom  was  remodelled.  Most  of  the  old  clergy  were 
ejected  from  their  benefices.  Fines,  often  of  ruinous  amount, 
were  laid  on  the  Royalists,  already  impoverished  by  large  aids 
furnished  to  the  King.  Many  estates  were  confiscated.  Many 
proscribed   Cavaliers   found   it  expedient  to  purchase,  at  an 


enormous  cost,  the  protection  of  eminent  members  of  the 
victorious  party.  Large  domains  belonging  to  the  crown,  to 
the  bishops,  and  to  the  chapters  were  seized,  and  either 
granted  away  or  put  up  to  auction.  In  consequence  of  these 
spoliations,  a  great  part  of  the  soil  of  England  was  at  once 
offered  for  sale.  As  money  was  scarce,  as  the  market  was 
glutted,  as  the  title  was  insecure,  and  as  the  awe  inspired  by 
powerful  bidders  prevented  free  competition,  the  prices  were 
often  merely  nominal.  Thus  many  old  and  honourable 
families  disappeared  and  were  heard  of  no  more ;  and  many 
new  men  rose  rapidly  to  affluence. 

But,  while  the  Houses  were  employing  their  authority  thus, 
it  suddenly  passed  out  of  their  hands.  It  had  been  obtained 
by  calling  into  existence  a  power  which  could  not  be  controlled. 
In  the  summer  of  1647,  about  twelve  months  after  the  last 
fortress  of  the  CavaHers  had  submitted  to  the  Parliament,  the 
Parliament  was  compelled  to  submit  to  its  own  soldiers. 

Thirteen  years  followed,  during  which  England  was,  under 
various  names  and  forms,  really  governed  by  the  sword.  Never 
before  that  time,  or  since  that  time,  was  the  civil  power  in  our 
country  subjected  to  military  dictation. 

The  army  which  now  became  supreme  in  the  State  was  an 
army  very  different  from  any  that  has  since  been  seen  among 
us.  At  present  the  pay  of  the  common  soldier  is  not  such  as 
can  seduce  any  but  the  humblest  class  of  English  labourers 
from  their  calling.  A  barrier  almost  impassable  separates  him 
from  the  commissioned  officer.  The  great  majority  of  those 
who  rise  high  in  the  service  rise  by  purchase.  So  numerous 
and  extensive  are  the  remote  dependencies  of  England,  that 
every  man  who  enlists  in  the  line  must  expect  to  pass  many 
years  in  exile,  and  some  years  in  climates  unfavourable  to  the 
health  and  vigour  of  the  European  race.  The  army  of  the  Long 
Parliament  was  raised  for  home  service.  The  pay  of  the  private 
soldier  was  much  above  the  wages  earned  by  the  great  body  of 
the  people;  and,  if  he  distinguished  himself  by  intelligence  and 
courage,  he  might  hope  to  attain  high  commands.  The  ranks 
were  accordingly  composed  of  persons  superior  in  station  and 
education  to  the  multitude.  These  persons,  sober,  moral, 
diligent,  and  accustomed  to  reflect,  had  been  induced  to  take 
up  arms,  not  by  the  pressure  of  want,  not  by  the  love  of  novelty 
and  license,  not  by  the  arts  of  recruiting  officers,  but  by  religious 
and  political  zeal,  mingled  with  the  desire  of  distinction  and 
promotion.  The  boast  of  the  soldiers,  as  we  find  it  recorded 
in  their  solemn  resolutions,  was,  that  they  had  not  been  forced 


into  the  service,  nor  had  enlisted  chiefly  for  the  sake  of  lucre, 
that  they  were  no  janissaries,  but  freeborn  Englishmen,  who 
had,  of  their  own  accord,  put  their  hves  in  jeopardy  for  the 
liberties  and  religion  of  England,  and  whose  right  and  duty  it 
was  to  watch  over  the  welfare  of  the  nation  which  they  had 

A  force  thus  composed  might,  without  injury  to  its  efficiency, 
be  indulged  in  some  liberties  which,  if  allowed  to  any  other 
troops,  would  have  proved  subversive  of  all  discipline.  In 
general,  soldiers  who  should  form  themselves  into  political 
clubs,  elect  delegates,  and  pass  resolutions  on  high  questions  of 
state,  would  soon  break  loose  from  all  control,  would  cease  to 
form  an  army,  and  would  become  the  worst  and  most  dan- 
gerous of  mobs.  Nor  would  it  be  safe,  in  our  time,  to  tolerate 
in  any  regiment  religious  meetings,  at  which  a  corporal  versed 
in  Scripture  should  lead  the  devotions  of  his  less  gifted 
colonel,  and  admonish  a  backsliding  major.  But  such  was  the 
intelligence,  the  gravity,  and  the  selfcommand  of  the  warriors 
whom  Cromwell  had  trained,  that  in  their  camp  a  political 
organization  and  a  religious  organization  could  exist  without 
destroying  military  organization.  The  same  men,  who,  off 
duty,  were  noted  as  demagogues  and  field  preachers,  were 
distinguished  by  steadiness,  by  the  spirit  of  order,  and  by 
prompt  obedience  on  watch,  on  drill,  and  on  the  field  of 

In  war  this  strange  force  was  irresistible.  The  stubborn 
courage  characteristic  of  the  English  people  was,  by  the  system 
of  Cromwell,  at  once  regulated  and  stimulated.  Other  leaders 
have  maintained  order  as  strict.  Other  leaders  have  inspired 
their  followers  with  zeal  as  ardent.  But  in  his  camp  alone  the 
most  rigid  discipline  was  found  in  company  with  the  fiercest 
enthusiasm.  His  troops  moved  to  victory  with  the  precision 
of  machines,  while  burning  with  the  wildest  fanaticism  of 
Crusaders.  From  the  time  when  the  army  was  remodelled  to 
the  time  when  it  was  disbanded,  it  never  found,  either  in  the 
British  islands  or  on  the  Continent,  an  enemy  who  could  stand 
its  onset.  In  England,  Scotland,  Ireland,  Flanders,  the 
Puritan  warriors,  often  surrounded  by  difficulties,  sometimes 
contending  against  threefold  odds,  not  only  never  failed  to 
conquer,  but  never  failed  to  destroy  and  break  in  pieces  what- 
ever force  was  opposed  to  them.  They  at  length  came  to 
regard  the  day  of  battle  as  a  day  of  certain  triumph,  and 
marched  against  the  most  renowned  battalions  of  Europe  with 
disdainful  confidence.     Turenne  was  startled  by  the  shout  of 


Stern  exultation  with  which  his  EngUsh  aUies  advanced  to  the 
combat,  and  expressed  the  dehght  of  a  true  soldier,  when  he 
learned  that  it  was  ever  the  fashion  of  Cromwell's  pikemen  to 
rejoice  greatly  when  they  beheld  the  enemy ;  and  the  banished 
Cavaliers  felt  an  emotion  of  national  pride,  when  they  saw 
a  brigade  of  their  countrymen,  outnumbered  by  foes  and 
abandoned  by  allies,  drive  before  it  in  headlong  rout  the  finest 
infantry  of  Spain,  and  force  a  passage  into  a  counterscarp  which 
had  just  been  pronounced  impregnable  by  the  ablest  of  the 
Marshals  of  France. 

But  that  which  chiefly  distinguished  the  army  of  Cromwell 
from  other  armies  was  the  austere  morality  and  the  fear  of  God 
which  pervaded  all  ranks.  It  is  acknowledged  by  the  most 
zealous  Royalists  that,  in  that  singular  camp,  no  oath  was  heard, 
no  drunkenness  or  gambling  was  seen,  and  that,  during  the  long 
dominion  of  the  soldiery,  the  property  of  the  peaceable  citizen 
and  the  honour  of  woman  were  held  sacred.  If  outrages  were 
committed,  they  were  outrages  of  a  very  different  kind  from 
those  of  which  a  victorious  army  is  generally  guilty.  No  servant 
girl  complained  of  the  rough  gallantry  of  the  redcoats.  Not  an 
ounce  of  plate  was  taken  from  the  shops  of  the  goldsmiths. 
But  a  Pelagian  sermon,  or  a  window  on  which  the  Virgin  and 
Child  were  painted,  produced  in  the  Puritan  ranks  an  excite- 
ment which  it  required  the  utmost  exertions  of  the  officers  to 
quell.  One  of  Cromwell's  chief  difficulties  was  to  restrain  his 
musketeers  and  dragoons  from  invading  by  main  force  the 
pulpits  of  ministers  whose  discourses,  to  use  the  language  of 
that  time,  were  not  savoury ;  and  too  many  of  our  cathedrals 
still  bear  the  marks  of  the  hatred  with  which  those  stern  spirits 
regarded  every  vestige  of  Popery. 

To  keep  down  the  English  people  was  no  light  task  even  for 
that  army.  No  sooner  was  the  first  pressure  of  military  tyranny 
felt,  than  the  nation,  unbroken  to  such  servitude,  began  to 
struggle  fiercely.  Insurrections  broke  out  even  in  those  coun- 
ties which,  during  the  recent  war,  had  been  the  most  submissive 
to  the  Parliament.  Indeed,  the  Parliament  itself  abhorred  its 
old  defenders  more  than  its  old  enemies,  and  was  desirous  to 
come  to  terms  of  accommodation  with  Charles  at  the  expense 
of  the  troops.  In  Scotland,  at  the  same  time,  a  coalition  was 
formed  between  the  Royalists  and  a  large  body  of  Presbyterians 
who  regarded  the  doctrines  of  the  Independents  with  detesta- 
tion. At  length  the  storm  burst.  There  were  risings  in 
Norfolk,  Suffolk,  Essex,  Kent,  Wales.  The  fleet  in  the  Thames 
suddenly  hoisted  the  royal    colours,  stood    out   to   sea,    and 


menaced  the  southern  coast.  A  great  Scottish  force  crossed 
the  frontier  and  advanced  into  Lancashire.  It  might  well  be 
suspected  that  these  movements  were  contemplated  with  secret 
complacency  by  a  majority  both  of  the  Lords  and  of  the 

But  the  yoke  of  the  army  was  not  to  be  so  shaken  off. 
While  Fairfax  suppressed  the  risings  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
the  capital,  Oliver  routed  the  Welsh  insurgents,  and,  leaving 
their  castles  in  ruins,  marched  against  the  Scots.  His  troops 
were  few,  when  compared  with  the  invaders  ;  but  he  was  little 
in  the  habit  of  counting  his  enemies.  The  Scottish  army  was 
utterly  destroyed.  A  change  in  the  Scottish  government 
followed.  An  administration,  hostile  to  the  King,  was  formed 
at  Edinburgh ;  and  Cromwell,  more  than  ever  the  darling  of 
his  soldiers,  returned  in  triumph  to  London. 

And  now  a  design,  to  which,  at  the  commencement  of  the 
civil  war,  no  man  would  have  dared  to  allude,  and  which  was 
not  less  inconsistent  with  the  Solemn  League  and  Covenant 
than  with  the  old  law  of  England,  began  to  take  a  distinct 
form.  The  austere  warriors  who  ruled  the  nation  had,  during 
some  months,  meditated  a  fearful  vengeance  on  the  captive 
King.  When  and  how  the  scheme  originated ;  whether  it 
spread  from  the  general  to  the  ranks,  or  from  the  ranks 
to  the  general ;  whether  it  is  to  be  ascribed  to  policy 
using  fanaticism  as  a  tool,  or  to  fanaticism  bearing  down 
policy  with  headlong  impulse,  are  questions  which,  even 
at  this  day,  cannot  be  answered  with  perfect  confidence. 
It  seems,  however,  on  the  whole,  probable  that  he  who 
seemed  to  lead  was  really  forced  to  follow,  and  that,  on 
this  occasion,  as  on  another  great  occasion  a  few  years 
later,  he  sacrificed  his  own  judgment  and  his  own  inclinations 
to  the  wishes  of  the  army.  For  the  power  which  he  had 
called  into  existence  was  a  power  which  even  he  could  not 
always  control ;  and,  that  he  might  ordinarily  command,  it  was 
necessary  that  he  should  sometimes  obey.  He  publicly 
protested  that  he  was  no  mover  in  the  matter,  that  the  first 
steps  had  been  taken  without  his  privity,  that  he  could  not 
advise  the  Parliament  to  strike  the  blow,  but  that  he  submitted 
his  own  feelings  to  the  force  of  circumstances  which  seemed  to 
him  to  indicate  the  purposes  of  providence.  It  has  been  the 
fashion  to  consider  these  professions  as  instances  of  the 
hypocrisy  which  is  vulgarly  imputed  to  him.  But  even  those 
who  pronounce  him  a  hypocrite  will  scarcely  venture  to  call 
him  a  fool.     They  are  therefore  bound  to  show  that  he  had 


some  purpose  to  serve  by  secretly  stimulating  the  army  to  take 
that  course  which  he  did  not  venture  openly  to  recommend. 
It  would  be  absurd  to  suppose  that  he,  who  was  never  by 
his  respectable  enemies  represented  as  wantonly  cruel  or 
implacably  vindictive,  would  have  taken  the  most  important 
step  of  his  life  under  the  influence  of  mere  malevolence.  He 
was  far  too  wise  a  man  not  to  know,  when  he  consented  to 
shed  that  august  blood,  that  he  was  doing  a  deed  which  was 
inexpiable,  and  which  would  move  the  grief  and  horror,  not 
only  of  the  Royalists,  but  of  nine  tenths  of  those  who  had 
stood  by  the  Parliament.  Whatever  visions  may  have  deluded 
others,  he  was  assuredly  dreaming  neither  of  a  republic  on  the 
antique  pattern,  nor  of  the  millennial  reign  of  the  saints.  If 
he  already  aspired  to  be  himself  the  founder  of  a  new  dynasty, 
it  was  plain  that  Charles  the  First  was  a  less  formidable 
competitor  than  Charles  the  Second  would  be.  At  the 
moment  of  the  death  of  Charles  the  First  the  loyalty  of  every 
Cavalier  would  be  transferred,  unimpaired,  to  Charles  the 
Second.  Charles  the  First  was  a  captive  ;  Charles  the  Second 
would  be  at  liberty.  Charles  the  First  was  an  object  of 
suspicion  and  dislike  to  a  large  proportion  of  those  who  yet 
shuddered  at  the  thought  of  slaying  him  ;  Charles  the  Second 
would  excite  all  the  interest  which  belongs  to  distressed  youth 
and  innocence.  It  is  impossible  to  believe  that  considerations 
so  obvious,  and  so  important,  escaped  the  most  profound 
politician  of  that  age.  The  truth  is  that  Cromwell  had,  at  one 
time,  meant  to  mediate  between  the  throne  and  the  Parliament, 
and  to  reorganize  the  distracted  State  by  the  power  of  the 
sword,  under  the  sanction  of  the  royal  name.  In  this  design 
he  persisted  till  he  was  compelled  to  abandon  it  by  the 
refractory  temper  of  the  soldiers,  and  by  the  incurable 
duplicity  of  the  King.  A  party  in  the  camp  began  to  clamour 
for  the  head  of  the  traitor,  who  was  for  treating  with  Agag. 
Conspiracies  were  formed.  Threats  of  impeachment  were 
loudly  uttered.  A  mutiny  broke  out,  which  all  the  vigour  and 
resolution  of  Oliver  could  hardly  quell.  And  though,  by  a 
judicious  mixture  of  severity  and  kindness,  he  succeeded  in 
restoring  order,  he  saw  that  it  would  be  in  the  highest  degree 
difficult  and  perilous  to  contend  against  the  rage  of  warriors, 
who  regarded  the  fallen  tyrant  as  their  foe,  and  as  the  foe  of 
their  God. 

At  the  same  time  it  became  more  evident  than  ever  that  the 
King  could  not  be  trusted.  The  vices  of  Charles  had  grown 
upon   him.     They  were,  indeed,  vices   which  difficulties  and 


perplexities  generally  bring  out  in  the  strongest  light. 
Cunning  is  the  natural  defence  of  the  weak.  A  prince, 
therefore,  who  is  habitually  a  deceiver  when  at  the  height  of 
power,  is  not  likely  to  learn  frankness  in  the  midst  of 
embarrassments  and  distresses.  Charles  was  not  only  a  most 
unscrupulous  but  a  most  unlucky  dissembler.  There  never 
was  a  politician  to  whom  so  many  frauds  and  falsehoods 
were  brought  home  by  undeniable  evidence.  He  publicly 
recognised  the  Houses  at  Westminster  as  a  legal  Parliament, 
and,  at  the  same  time,  made  a  private  minute  in  council, 
declaring  the  recognition  null.  He  pubUcly  disclaimed  all 
thought  of  calling  in  foreign  aid  against  his  people :  he 
privately  solicited  aid  from  France,  from  Denmark,  and  from 
Loraine.  He  publicly  denied  that  he  employed  Papists  :  at 
the  same  time  he  privately  sent  to  his  generals  directions  to 
employ  every  Papist  that  would  serve.  He  publicly  took  the 
sacrament  at  Oxford,  as  a  pledge  that  he  never  would  even 
connive  at  Popery :  he  privately  assured  his  wife,  that  he 
intended  to  tolerate  Popery  in  England  ;  and  he  authorised 
Lord  Glamorgan  to  promise  that  Popery  should  be  established 
in  Ireland.  Then  he  attempted  to  clear  himself  at  his  agent's 
expense.  Glamorgan  received,  in  the  royal  handwriting, 
reprimands  intended  to  be  read  by  others,  and  eulogies  which 
were  to  be  seen  only  by  himself.  To  such  an  extent,  indeed, 
had  insincerity  now  tainted  the  King's  whole  nature,  that  his 
most  devoted  friends  could  not  refrain  from  complaining  to 
each  other,  with  bitter  grief  and  shame,  of  his  crooked  politics. 
His  defeats,  they  said,  gave  them  less  pain  than  his  intrigues. 
Since  he  had  been  a  prisoner,  there  was  no  section  of  the 
victorious  party  which  had  not  been  the  object  both  of  his 
flatteries  and  of  his  machinations  :  but  never  was  he  more 
unfortunate  than  when  he  attempted  at  once  to  cajole  and  to 
undermine  Cromwell. 

Cromwell  had  to  determine  whether  he  would  put  to  hazard 
the  attachment  of  his  party,  the  attachment  of  his  army,  his 
own  greatness,  nay  his  own  life,  in  an  attempt,  which  would 
probably  have  been  vain,  to  save  a  prince  whom  no  engage- 
ment could  bind.  With  many  struggles  and  misgivings,  and 
probably  not  without  many  prayers,  the  decision  was  made. 
Charles  was  left  to  his  fate.  The  military  saints  resolved  that, 
in  defiance  of  the  old  laws  of  the  realm,  and  of  the  almost 
universal  sentiment  of  the  nation,  the  King  should  expiate  his 
crimes  with  his  blood.  He  for  a  time  expected  a  death  like 
that  of  his  unhappy  predecessors,  Edward  the  Second  and 



Richard  the  Second.  But  he  was  in  no  danger  of  such 
treason.  Those  who  had  him  in  their  gripe  were  not  mid- 
night stabbers.  What  they  did  they  did  in  order  that  it 
might  be  a  spectacle  to  heaven  and  earth,  and  that  it  might 
be  held  in  everlasting  remembrance.  They  enjoyed  keenly 
the  very  scandal  which  they  gave.  That  the  ancient  constitu- 
tion and  the  public  opinion  of  England  were  directly  opposed 
to  regicide  made  regicide  seem  strangely  fascinating  to  a  party 
bent  on  effecting  a  complete  political  and  social  revolution. 
In  order  to  accomplish  their  purpose,  it  was  necessary  that 
they  should  first  break  in  pieces  every  part  of  the  machinery  of 
the  government ;  and  this  necessity  was  rather  agreeable  than 
painful  to  them.  The  Commons  passed  a  vote  tending  to 
accommodation  with  the  King.  The  soldiers  excluded  the 
majority  by  force.  The  Lords  unanimously  rejected  the 
proposition  that  the  King  should  be  brought  to  trial.  Their 
house  was  instantly  closed.  No  court,  known  to  the  law, 
would  take  on  itself  the  office  of  judging  the  fountain  of 
justice.  A  revolutionary  tribunal  was  created.  That  tribunal 
pronounced  Charles  a  tyrant,  a  traitor,  a  murderer,  and  a 
public  enemy  ;  and  his  head  was  severed  from  his  shoulders 
before  thousands  of  spectators,  in  front  of  the  banqueting  hall 
of  his  own  palace. 

In  no  long  time  it  became  manifest  that  those  political  and 
religious  zealots,  to  whom  this  deed  is  to  be  ascribed,  had 
committed,  not  only  a  crime,  but  an  error.  They  had  given 
to  a  prince,  hitherto  known  to  his  people  chiefly  by  his  faults, 
an  opportunity  of  displaying,  on  a  great  theatre,  before  the 
eyes  of  all  nations  and  all  ages,  some  qualities  which  irresistibly 
call  forth  the  admiration  and  love  of  mankind,  the  high  spirit 
of  a  gallant  gentleman,  the  patience  and  meekness  of  a 
penitent  Christian.  Nay,  they  had  so  contrived  their  revenge 
that  the  very  man  whose  whole  life  had  been  a  series  of 
attacks  on  the  liberties  of  England  now  seemed  to  die  a 
martyr  in  the  cause  of  those  liberties.  No  demagogue  ever 
produced  such  an  impression  on  the  public  mind  as  the 
captive  King  who,  retaining  in  that  extremity  all  his  regal 
dignity,  and  confronting  death  with  dauntless  courage,  gave 
utterance  to  the  feelings  of  his  oppressed  people,  manfully 
refused  to  plead  before  a  court  unknown  to  the  law,  appealed 
from  military  violence  to  the  principles  of  the  constitution, 
asked  by  what  right  the  House  of  Commons  had  been  purged 
of  its  most  respectable  members  and  the  House  of  Lords 
deprived    of  its   legislative  functions,   and   told   his   weeping 


hearers  that  he  was  defending  not  only  his  own  cause,  but 
theirs.  His  long  misgovernment,  his  innumerable  perfidies, 
were  forgotten,  His  memory  was,  in  the  minds  of  the  great 
majority  of  his  subjects,  associated  with  those  free  institutions 
which  he  had,  during  many  years,  laboured  to  destroy :  for 
those  free  institutions  had  perished  with  him,  and,  amidst  the 
mournful  silence  of  a  community  kept  down  by  arms,  had 
been  defended  by  his  voice  alone.  From  that  day  began 
a  reaction  in  favour  of  monarchy  and  of  the  exiled  house, 
a  reaction  which  never  ceased  till  the  throne  had  again  been 
set  up  in  all  its  old  dignity. 

At  first,  however,  the  slayers  of  the  King  seemed  to  have 
derived  new  energy  from  that  sacrament  of  blood  by  which 
they  had  bound  themselves  closely  together,  and  separated 
themselves  for  ever  from  the  great  body  of  their  countrymen. 
England  was  declared  a  commonwealth.  The  House  of 
Commons,  reduced  to  a  small  number  of  members,  was 
nominally  the  supreme  power  in  the  State.  In  fact,  the  army 
and  its  great  chief  governed  every  thing.  Oliver  had  made 
his  choice.  He  had  kept  the  hearts  of  his  soldiers,  and  had 
broken  with  almost  every  other  class  of  his  fellow-citizens. 
Beyond  the  limits  of  his  camps  and  fortresses  he  could  scarcely 
be  said  to  have  a  party.  Those  elements  of  force  which, 
when  the  civil  war  broke  out,  had  appeared  arrayed  against 
each  other,  were  combined  against  him  ;  all  the  Cavaliers, 
the  great  majority  of  the  Roundheads,  the  Anglican  Church, 
the  Presbyterian  Church,  the  Roman  Catholic  Church,  England, 
Scotland,  Ireland.  Yet  such  was  his  genius  and  resolution 
that  he  was  able  to  overpower  and  crush  everything  that 
crossed  his  path,  to  make  himself  more  absolute  master  of 
his  country  than  any  of  her  legitimate  Kings  had  been,  and 
to  make  his  country  more  dreaded  and  respected  than  she 
had  been  during  many  generations  under  the  rule  of  her 
legitimate  Kings. 

England  had  already  ceased  to  struggle.  But  the  two  other 
kingdoms  which  had  been  governed  by  the  Stuarts  were  hostile 
to  the  new  republic.  The  Independent  party  was  equally 
odious  to  the  Roman  Catholics  of  Ireland,  and  to  the  Presby- 
terians of  Scotland.  Both  those  countries,  lately  in  rebellion 
against  Charles  the  First,  now  acknowledged  the  authority  of 
Charles  the  Second. 

But  everything  yielded  to  the  vigour  and  ability  of  Cromwell. 
In  a  few  months  he  subjugated  Ireland,  as  Ireland  had  never 
been  subjugated  during  the  five  centuries  of  slaughter  which 


had  elapsed  since  the  landing  of  the  first  Norman  settlers. 
He  resolved  to  put  an  end  to  that  conflict  of  races  and 
religions  which  had  so  long  distracted  the  island,  by  making 
the  English  and  Protestant  population  decidedly  predominant. 
For  this  end  he  gave  the  rein  to  the  fierce  enthusiasm  of  his 
followers,  waged  war  resembling  that  which  Israel  waged  on 
the  Canaanites,  smote  the  idolaters  with  the  edge  of  the 
sword,  so  that  great  cities  were  left  without  inhabitants,  drove 
many  thousands  to  the  Continent,  shipped  off  many  thousands 
to  the  West  Indies,  and  supplied  the  void  thus  made  by 
pouring  in  numerous  colonists,  of  Saxon  blood,  and  of  Calvin- 
istic  faith.  Strange  to  say,  under  that  iron  rule,  the  conquered 
country  began  to  wear  an  outward  face  of  prosperity.  Districts 
which  had  recently  been  as  wild  as  those  where  the  first  white 
settlers  of  Connecticut  were  contending  with  the  red  men 
were  in  a  few  years  transformed  into  the  likeness  of  Kent 
and  Norfolk.  New  buildings,  roads,  and  plantations  were 
everywhere  seen.  The  rent  of  estates  rose  fast ;  and  soon 
the  English  landowners  began  to  complain  that  they  were  met 
in  every  market  by  the  products  of  Ireland,  and  to  clamour 
for  protecting  laws. 

From  Ireland  the  victorious  chief,  who  was  now  in  name, 
as  he  had  long  been  in  reality,  Lord  General  of  the  armies  of 
the  Commonwealth,  turned  to  Scotland.  The  young  King 
was  there.  He  had  consented  to  profess  himself  a  Presby- 
terian, and  to  subscribe  the  Covenant ;  and,  in  return  for 
these  concessions,  the  austere  Puritans  who  bore  sway  at 
Edinburgh  had  permitted  him  to  assume  the  crown,  and  to 
hold,  under  their  inspection  and  control,  a  solemn  and 
melancholy  court.  This  mock  loyalty  was  of  short  duration. 
In  two  great  battles  Cromwell  annihilated  the  military  force 
of  Scotland.  Charles  fled  for  his  life,  and,  with  extreme 
diflSculty,  escaped  the  fate  of  his  father.  The  ancient  kingdom 
of  the  Stuarts  was  reduced,  for  the  first  time,  to  profound 
submission.  Of  that  independence,  so  manfully  defended 
against  the  mightiest  and  ablest  of  the  Plantagenets,  no  vestige 
was  left.  The  English  Parliament  made  laws  for  Scotland. 
English  judges  held  assizes  in  Scotland.  Even  that  stubborn 
Church,  which  has  held  its  own  against  so  many  governments, 
scarce  dared  to  utter  an  audible  murmur. 

Thus  far  there  had  been  at  least  the  semblance  of  harmony 
between  the  warriors  who  subjugated  Ireland  and  Scotland 
and  the  politicians  who  sate  at  Westminster :  but  the  alliance 
which  had  been  cemented  by  danger  was  dissolved  by  victory. 


The  Parliament  forgot  that  it  was  but  the  creature  of  the 
army.  The  army  was  less  disposed  than  ever  to  submit  to 
the  dictation  of  the  Parliament.  Indeed  the  few  members 
who  made  up  what  was  contemptuously  called  the  Rump  of 
the  House  of  Commons  had  no  more  claim  than  the  military 
chiefs  to  be  esteemed  the  representatives  of  the  nation.  The 
dispute  was  soon  brought  to  a  decisive  issue.  Cromwell  filled 
the  House  with  armed  men.  The  Speaker  was  pulled  out  of 
his  chair,  the  mace  taken  from  the  table,  the  room  cleared, 
and  the  door  locked.  The  nation,  which  loved  neither  of  the 
contending  parties,  but  which  was  forced,  in  its  own  despite, 
to  respect  the  capacity  and  resolution  of  the  General,  looked 
on  with  patience,  if  not  with  complacency. 

Kings,  Lords,  and  Commons,  had  now  in  turn  been  van- 
quished and  destroyed ;  and  Cromwell  seemed  to  be  left  the 
sole  heir  of  the  powers  of  all  three.  Yet  were  certain  limitations 
still  imposed  on  him  by  the  very  army  to  which  he  owed  his 
immense  authority.  That  singular  body  of  men  was,  for  the 
most  part,  composed  of  zealous  republicans.  In  the  act  of 
enslaving  their  country,  they  had  deceived  themselves  into  the 
belief  that  they  were  emancipating  her.  The  book  which  they 
most  venerated  furnished  them  with  a  precedent  which  was 
frequently  in  their  mouths.  It  was  true  that  the  ignorant  and 
ungrateful  nation  murmured  against  its  deliverers.  Even  so 
had  another  chosen  nation  murmured  against  the  leader  who 
brought  it,  by  painful  and  dreary  paths,  from  the  house  of 
bondage  to  the  land  flowing  with  milk  and  honey.  Yet  had 
that  leader  rescued  his  brethren  in  spite  of  themselves ;  nor 
had  he  shrunk  from  making  terrible  examples  of  those  who 
contemned  the  proffered  freedom,  and  pined  for  the  fleshpots, 
the  taskmasters,  and  the  idolatries  of  Egypt.  The  object  of 
the  warlike  saints  who  surrounded  Cromwell  was  the  settlement 
of  a  free  and  pious  commonwealth.  For  that  end  they  were 
ready  to  employ,  without  scruple,  any  means,  however  violent 
and  lawless.  It  was  not  impossible,  therefore,  to  establish  by 
their  aid  a  monarchy  absolute  in  effect :  but  it  was  probable 
that  their  aid  would  be  at  once  withdrawn  from  a  ruler  who, 
even  under  strict  constitutional  restraints,  should  venture  to 
assume  the  regal  name  and  dignity. 

The  sentiments  of  Cromwell  were  widely  different.  He  was 
not  what  he  had  been  ;  nor  would  it  be  just  to  consider  the 
change  which  his  views  had  undergone  as  the  effect  merely  of 
selfish  ambition.  When  he  came  up  to  the  Long  Parliament, 
he  brought  with  him  from  his  rural  retreat  little  knowledge  of 


books,  no  experience  of  great  affairs,  and  a  temper  galled  by 
the  long  tyranny  of  the  government  and  of  the  hierarchy.  He 
had,  during  the  thirteen  years  which  followed,  gone  through  a 
political  education  of  no  common  kind.  He  had  been  a  chief 
actor  in  a  succession  of  revolutions.  He  had  been  long  the 
soul,  and  at  last  the  head,  of  a  party.  He  had  commanded 
armies,  won  battles,  negotiated  treaties,  subdued,  pacified,  and 
regulated  kingdoms.  It  would  have  been  strange  indeed  if 
his  notions  had  been  still  the  same  as  in  the  days  when  his 
mind  was  principally  occupied  by  his  fields  and  his  religion, 
and  when  the  greatest  events  which  diversified  the  course  of 
his  life  were  a  cattle  fair  or  a  prayer  meeting  at  Huntingdon. 
He  saw  that  some  schemes  of  innovation  for  which  he  had 
once  been  zealous,  whether  good  or  bad  in  themselves,  were 
opposed  to  the  general  feeling  of  the  country,  and  that,  if  he 
persevered  in  those  schemes,  he  had  nothing  before  him  but 
constant  troubles,  which  must  be  suppressed  by  the  constant 
use  of  the  sword.  He  therefore  wished  to  restore,  in  all  essen- 
tials, that  ancient  constitution  which  the  majority  of  the  people 
had  always  loved,  and  for  which  they  now  pined.  The  course 
afterwards  taken  by  Monk  was  not  open  to  Cromwell.  The 
memory  of  one  terrible  day  separated  the  great  regicide  for 
ever  from  the  House  of  Stuart.  What  remained  was  that  he 
should  mount  the  ancient  English  throne,  and  reign  according 
to  the  ancient  English  polity.  If  he  could  effect  this,  he  might 
hope  that  the  wounds  of  the  lacerated  State  would  heal  fast. 
Great  numbers  of  honest  and  quiet  men  would  speedily  rally 
round  him.  Those  Royalists  whose  attachment  was  rather  to 
institutions  than  to  persons,  to  the  kingly  office  than  to  King 
Charles  the  First  or  King  Charles  the  Second,  would  soon  kiss 
the  hand  of  King  Oliver.  The  peers,  who  now  remained 
sullenly  at  their  country  houses,  and  refused  to  take  any  part 
in  public  affairs,  would,  when  summoned  to  their  House  by 
the  writ  of  a  King  in  possession,  gladly  resume  their  ancient 
functions.  Northumberland  and  Bedford,  Manchester  and 
Pembroke,  would  be  proud  to  bear  the  crown  and  the  spurs, 
the  sceptre  and  the  globe  before  the  restorer  of  aristocracy.  A 
sentiment  of  loyalty  would  gradually  bind  the  people  to  the  new 
dynasty ;  and,  on  the  decease  of  the  founder  of  that  dynasty, 
the  royal  dignity  might  descend  with  general  acquiescence  to 
his  posterity. 

The  ablest  Royalists  were  of  opinion  that  these  views  were 
correct,  and  that,  if  Cromwell  had  been  permitted  to  follow  his 
own  judgment,  the  exiled  line  would  never  have  been  restored. 


But  his  plan  was  directly  opposed  to  the  feelings  of  the  only 
class  which  he  dared  not  offend.  The  name  of  King  was 
hateful  to  the  soldiers.  Some  of  them  were  indeed  unwilling 
to  see  the  administration  in  the  hands  of  any  single  person. 
The  great  majority,  however,  were  disposed  to  support  their 
general,  as  elective  first  magistrate  of  a  commonwealth,  against 
all  factions  which  might  resist  his  authority  :  but  they  would 
not  consent  that  he  should  assume  the  regal  title,  or  that  the 
dignity,  which  was  the  just  reward  of  his  personal  merit,  should 
be  declared  hereditary  in  his  family.  All  that  was  left  to  him 
was,  to  give  to  the  new  republic  a  constitution  as  like  the 
constitution  of  the  old  monarchy  as  the  army  would  bear. 
That  his  elevation  to  power  might  not  seem  to  be  his  own 
mere  act,  he  convoked  a  council,  composed  partly  of  persons 
on  whose  support  he  could  depend,  and  partly  of  persons 
whose  opposition  he  might  safely  defy.  This  assembly,  which 
he  called  a  Parliament,  and  which  the  populace  nicknarned, 
from  one  of  the  most  conspicuous  members,  Barebone's  Par- 
liament, after  exposing  itself  during  a  short  time  to  the  public 
contempt,  surrendered  back  to  the  General  the  powers  which 
it  had  received  from  him,  and  left  him  at  liberty  to  frame  a 
plan  of  government. 

His  plan  bore,  from  the  first,  a  considerable  resemblance  to 
the  old  English  constitution ;  but,  in  a  few  years,  he  thought 
it  safe  to  proceed  further,  and  to  restore  almost  every  part  of 
the  ancient  system  under  new  names  and  forms.  The  title 
of  King  was  not  revived;  but  the  kingly  prerogatives  were 
intrusted  to  a  Lord  High  Protector.  The  sovereign  was  called 
not  His  Majesty,  but  His  Highness.  He  was  not  crowned 
and  anointed  in  Westminster  Abbey,  but  was  solemnly  en- 
throned, girt  with  a  sword  of  state,  clad  in  a  robe  of  purple, 
and  presented  with  a  rich  Bible,  in  Westminster  Hall.  His 
office  was  not  declared  hereditary  :  but  he  was  permitted  to 
name  his  successor ;  and  none  could  doubt  that  he  would 
name  his  son. 

A  House  of  Commons  was  a  necessary  part  of  the  new  polity. 
In  constituting  this  body,  the  Protector  showed  a  wisdom  and 
a  public  spirit  which  were  not  duly  appreciated  by  his  contem- 
poraries. The  vices  of  the  old  representative  system,  though 
by  no  means  so  serious  as  they  afterwards  became,  had  already 
been  remarked  by  farsighted  men.  Cromwell  reformed  that 
system  on  the  same  principles  on  which  Mr.  Pitt,  a  hundred 
and  thirty  years  later,  attempted  to  reform  it,  and  on  which  it 
was  at  length  reformed  in  our  own  times.     Small  boroughs 


were  disfranchised  even  more  unsparingly  than  in  1832  ;  and 
the  number  of  county  members  was  greatly  increased.  Very 
few  unrepresented  towns  had  yet  grown  into  importance.  Of 
those  towns  the  most  considerable  were  Manchester,  Leeds, 
and  Halifax.  Representatives  were  given  to  all  three.  An 
addition  was  made  to  the  number  of  the  members  for  the 
capital.  The  elective  franchise  was  placed  on  such  a  footing 
that  every  man  of  substance,  whether  possessed  of  freehold 
estates  in  land  or  not,  had  a  vote  for  the  county  in  which  he 
resided.  A  few  Scotchmen  and  a  few  of  the  English  colonists 
settled  in  Ireland,  were  summoned  to  the  assembly  which  was 
to  legislate,  at  Westminster,  for  every  part  of  the  British  isles. 

To  create  a  House  of  Lords  was  a  less  easy  task.  Demo- 
cracy does  not  require  the  support  of  prescription.  Monarchy 
has  often  stood  without  that  support.  But  a  patrician  order 
is  the  work  of  time.  Oliver  found  already  existing  a  nobility, 
opulent,  highly  considered,  and  as  popular  with  the  commonalty 
as  any  nobility  has  ever  been.  Had  he,  as  King  of  England, 
commanded  the  peers  to  meet  him  in  Parliament  accordmg  to 
the  old  usage  of  the  realm,  many  of  them  would  undoubtedly 
have  obeyed  the  call.  This  he  could  not  do  ;  and  it  was  to 
no  purpose  that  he  offered  to  the  chiefs  of  illustrious  families 
seats  in  his  new  senate.  They  conceived  that  they  could  not 
accept  a  nomination  to  an  upstart  assembly  without  renouncing 
their  birthright  and  betraying  their  order.  The  Protector  was, 
therefore,  under  the  necessity  of  filling  his  Upper  House  with 
new  men  who,  during  the  late  stirring  times,  had  made  them- 
selves conspicuous.  This  was  the  least  happy  of  his 
contrivances,  and  displeased  all  parties.  The  Levellers  were 
angry  with  him  for  instituting  a  privileged  class.  The  multi- 
tude, which  felt  respect  and  fondness  for  the  great  historical 
names  of  the  land,  laughed  without  restraint  at  a  House  of 
Lords,  in  which  lucky  draymen  and  shoemakers  were  seated, 
to  which  few  of  the  old  nobles  were  invited,  and  from  which 
almost  all  those  old  nobles  who  were  invited  turned  disdain- 
fully away. 

How  Oliver's  Parliaments  were  constituted,  however,  was 
practically  of  Httle  moment :  for  he  possessed  the  means  of 
conducting  the  administration  without  their  support,  and  in 
defiance  of  their  opposition.  His  wish  seems  to  have  been  to 
govern  constitutionally,  and  to  substitute  the  empire  of  the 
laws  for  that  of  the  sword.  But  he  soon  found  that,  hated  as 
he  was,  both  by  Royalists  and  Presbyterians,  he  could  be  safe 
only  by  being  absolute.     The  first  House  of  Commons  which 


the  people  elected  by  his  command,  questioned  his  authority, 
and  was  dissolved  without  having  passed  a  single  act.  His 
second  House  of  Commons,  though  it  recognised  him  as 
Protector,  and  would  gladly  have  made  him  King,  obstinately 
refused  to  acknowledge  his  new  Lords.  He  had  no  course 
left  but  to  dissolve  the  Parliament.  "  God,"  he  exclaimed,  at 
parting,  "  be  judge  between  you  and  me  ! " 

Yet  was  the  energy  of  the  Protector's  administration  in  no- 
wise relaxed  by  these  dissensions.  Those  soldiers  who  would 
not  suffer  him  to  assume  the  kingly  title  stood  by  him  when 
he  ventured  on  acts  of  power,  as  high  as  any  English  King  has 
ever  attempted.  The  government,  therefore,  though  in  form 
a  republic,  was  in  truth  a  despotism,  moderated  only  by  the 
wisdom,  the  sobriety,  and  the  magnanimity  of  the  despot. 
The  country  was  divided  into  military  districts.  Those 
districts  were  placed  under  the  command  of  Major  Generals. 
Every  insurrectionary  movement  was  promptly  put  down  and 
punished.  The  fear  inspired  by  the  power  of  the  sword  in  so 
strong,  steady,  and  expert  a  hand,  quelled  the  spirit  both  of 
Cavaliers  and  Levellers.  The  loyal  gentry  declared  that  they 
were  still  as  ready  as  ever  to  risk  their  lives  for  the  old 
government  and  the  old  dynasty,  if  there  were  the  slightest 
hope  of  success  :  but  to  rush  at  the  head  of  their  serving  men 
and  tenants  on  the  pikes  of  brigades  victorious  in  a  hundred 
battles  and  sieges,  would  be  a  frantic  waste  of  innocent  and 
honourable  blood.  Both  Royalists  and  Republicans,  having 
no  hope  in  open  resistance,  began  to  revolve  dark  schemes  of 
assassination  :  but  the  Protector's  intelligence  was  good  :  his 
vigilance  was  unremitting;  and,  whenever  he  moved  beyond 
the  walls  of  his  palace,  the  dra\vn  swords  and  cuirasses  of  his 
trusty  bodyguards  encompassed  him  thick  on  every  side. 

Had  he  been  a  cruel,  licentious,  and  rapacious  prince,  the 
nation  might  have  found  courage  in  despair,  and  might  have 
made  a  convulsive  effort  to  free  itself  from  military  domination. 
But  the  grievances  which  the  country  suffered,  though  such 
as  excited  serious  discontent,  were  by  no  means  such  as  impel 
great  masses  of  men  to  stake  their  lives,  their  fortunes,  and  the 
welfare  of  their  families  against  fearful  odds.  The  taxation, 
though  heavier  than  it  had  been  under  the  Stuarts,  was  not 
heavy  when  compared  with  that  of  the  neighbouring  states  and 
with  the  resources  of  England.  Property  was  secure.  Even 
the  Cavalier,  who  refrained  from  giving  disturbance  to  the 
new  settlement,  enjoyed  in  peace  whatever  the  civil  troubles 
had  left  him.     The  laws  were  violated  only  in  cases  where  the 


safety  of  the  Protector's  person  and  government  was  con- 
cerned. Justice  was  administered  between  man  and  man  with 
an  exactness  and  purity  not  before  known.  Under  no 
English  government,  since  the  Reformation,  had  there  been 
so  httle  reUgious  persecution.  The  unfortunate  Roman 
CathoUcs,  indeed,  were  held  to  be  scarcely  within  the  pale  of 
Christian  charity.  But  the  clergy  of  the  fallen  Anglican 
Church  were  suffered  to  celebrate  their  worship  on  condition 
that  they  would  abstain  from  preaching  about  politics.  Even 
the  Jews,  whose  public  worship  had,  ever  since  the  thirteenth 
century,  been  interdicted,  were,  in  spite  of  the  strong  opposi- 
tion of  jealous  traders  and  fanatical  theologians,  permitted  to 
build  a  synagogue  in  London. 

The  Protector's  foreign  policy  at  the  same  time  extorted  the 
ungracious  approbation  of  those  who  most  detested  him.  The 
Cavaliers  could  scarcely  refrain  from  wishing  that  one  who 
had  done  so  much  to  raise  the  fame  of  the  nation  had  been  a 
legitimate  King;  and  the  Republicans  were  forced  to  own 
that  the  tyrant  suffered  none  but  himself  to  wrong  his  country, 
and  that,  if  he  had  robbed  her  of  liberty,  he  had  at  least  given 
her  glory  in  exchange.  After  half  a  century  during  which 
England  had  been  of  scarcely  more  weight  in  European 
politics  than  Venice  or  Saxony,  she  at  once  became  the  most 
formidable  power  in  the  world,  dictated  terms  of  peace  to  the 
United  Provinces,  avenged  the  common  injuries  of  Christen- 
dom on  the  pirates  of  Barbary,  vanquished  the  Spaniards  by 
land  and  sea,  seized  one  of  the  finest  Western  Indian  islands, 
and  acquired  on  the  Flemish  coast  a  fortress  which  consoled 
the  national  pride  for  the  loss  of  Calais.  She  was  supreme 
on  the  ocean.  She  was  the  head  of  the  Protestant  interest. 
All  the  reformed  Churches  scattered  over  Roman  Catholic 
kingdoms  acknowledged  Cromwell  as  their  guardian.  The 
Huguenots  of  Languedoc,  the  shepherds  who,  in  the  hamlets 
of  the  Alps,  professed  a  Protestantism  older  than  that  of 
Augsburg,  were  secured  from  oppression  by  the  mere  terror 
of  his  great  name.  The  Pope  himself  was  forced  to  preach 
humanity  and  moderation  to  the  Popish  princes.  For  a  voice 
which  seldom  threatened  in  vain  had  declared  that,  unless 
favour  were  shown  to  the  people  of  God,  the  English  guns 
should  be  heard  in  the  Castle  of  Saint  Angelo.  In  truth, 
there  was  nothing  which  Cromwell  had,  for  his  own  sake  and 
that  of  his  family,  so  much  reason  to  desire  as  a  general 
religious  war  in  Europe.  In  such  a  war  he  must  have  been 
the  captain  of  the  Protestant  armies.     The  heart  of  England 


would  have  been  with  him.  His  victories  would  have  been 
hailed  with  an  unanimous  enthusiasm  unknown  in  the 
country  since  the  rout  of  the  Armada,  and  would  have  effaced 
the  stain  which  one  act,  condemned  by  the  general  voice  of 
the  nation,  has  left  on  his  splendid  fame.  Unhappily  for  him 
he  had  no  opportunity  of  displaying  his  admirable  military 
talents,  except  against  the  inhabitants  of  the  British  isles. 

While  he  lived  his  power  stood  firm,  an  object  of  mingled 
aversion,  admiration,  and  dread  to  his  subjects.  Few  indeed 
loved  his  government ;  but  those  who  hated  it  most  hated  it 
less  than  they  feared  it.  Had  it  been  a  worse  government,  it 
might  perhaps  have  been  overthrown  in  spite  of  all  its 
strength.  Had  it  been  a  weaker  government,  it  would 
certainly  have  been  overthrown  in  spite  of  all  its  merits.  But 
it  had  moderation  enough  to  abstain  from  those  oppressions 
which  drive  men  mad  ;  and  it  had  a  force  and  energy  which 
none  but  men  driven  mad  by  oppression  would  venture  to 

It  has  often  been  affirmed,  but  apparently  with  little  reason, 
that  Oliver  died  at  a  time  fortunate  for  his  renown,  and  that,  if 
his  life  had  been  prolonged,  it  would  probably  have  closed  amidst 
disgraces  and  disasters.  It  is  certain  that  he  was,  to  the  last, 
honoured  by  his  soldiers,  obeyed  by  the  whole  population  of 
the  British  islands,  and  dreaded  by  all  foreign  powers,  that  he 
was  laid  among  the  ancient  sovereigns  of  England  with  funeral 
pomp  such  as  London  had  never  before  seen,  and  that  he  was 
succeeded  by  his  son  Richard  as  quietly  as  any  King  had  ever 
been  succeeded  by  any  Prince  of  Wales. 

During  five  months,  the  administration  of  Richard  Cromwell 
went  on  so  tranquilly  and  regularly  that  all  Europe  believed 
him  to  be  firmly  established  on  the  chair  of  state.  In  truth 
his  situation  was  in  some  respects  much  more  advantageous 
than  that  of  his  father.  The  young  man  had  made  no  enemy. 
His  hands  were  unstained  by  civil  blood.  The  Cavaliers 
themselves  allowed  him  to  be  an  honest,  goodnatured  gentle- 
man. The  Presbyterian  party,  powerful  both  in  numbers  and 
in  wealth,  had  been  at  deadly  feud  with  the  late  Protector,  but 
was  disposed  to  regard  the  present  Protector  with  favour. 
That  party  had  always  been  desirous  to  see  the  old  civil  polity 
of  the  realm  restored  with  some  clearer  definitions  and  some 
stronger  safeguards  for  public  liberty,  but  had  many  reasons  for 
dreading  the  restoration  of  the  old  family.  Richard  was  the 
very  man  for  politicians  of  this  description.  His  humanity, 
ingenuousness,  and  modesty,  the  mediocrity  of  his  abilities,  and 


the  docility  with  which  he  submitted  to  the  guidance  of  person^ 
wiser  than  himself,  admirably  qualified  him  to  be  the  head  of 
a  limited  monarchy. 

For  a  time  it  seemed  highly  probable  that  he  would,  under 
the  direction  of  able  advisers,  effect  what  his  father  had  at- 
tempted in  vain.  A  Parliament  was  called,  and  the  writs  were 
directed  after  the  old  fashion.  The  small  boroughs  which 
had  recently  been  disfranchised  regained  their  lost  privilege : 
Manchester,  Leeds,  and  Halifax  ceased  to  return  members  ; 
and  the  county  of  York  was  again  limited  to  two  knights.  It  may 
seem  strange  to  a  generation  which  has  been  excited  almost  to 
madness  by  the  question  of  parliamentary  reform  that  great 
shires  and  towns  should  have  submitted  with  patience,  and 
even  with  complacency,  to  this  change  :  but  though  reflecting 
men  could,  even  in  that  age,  discern  the  vices  of  the  old 
representative  system,  and  foresee  that  those  vices  would,  sooner 
or  later,  produce  serious  practical  evil,  the  practical  evil  had 
not  yet  been  much  felt.  Oliver's  representative  system,  on  the 
other  hand,  though  constructed  on  the  soundest  principles,  was 
not  popular.  Both  the  events  in  which  it  originated,  and  the 
effects  which  it  had  produced,  prejudiced  men  against  it  It 
had  sprung  from  military  violence.  It  had  been  fruitful  of 
nothing  but  disputes.  The  whole  nation  was  sick  of  govern- 
ment by  the  sword,  and  pined  for  government  by  the  law.  The 
restoration,  therefore,  even  of  anomalies  and  abuses,  which 
were  in  strict  conformity  with  the  law,  and  which  had  been 
destroyed  by  the  sword,  gave  general  satisfaction. 

Among  the  Commons  there  was  a  strong  opposition,  consist- 
ing partly  of  avowed  Republicans,  and  partly  of  concealed 
Royalists :  but  a  large  and  steady  majority  appeared  to  be 
favourable  to  the  plan  of  reviving  the  old  civil  constitution 
under  a  new  dynasty.  Richard  was  solemnly  recognised  as 
first  magistrate.  The  Commons  not  only  consented  to  transact 
business  with  Oliver's  Lords,  but  passed  a  vote  acknowledging 
the  right  of  those  nobles  who  had  in  the  late  troubles  taken 
the  side  of  public  liberty,  to  sit  in  the  Upper  House  of  Parlia- 
ment without  any  new  creation. 

Thus  far  the  statesmen  by  whose  advice  Richard  acted  had 
been  successful.  Almost  all  the  parts  of  the  government  were 
now  constituted  as  they  had  been  constituted  at  the  commence- 
ment of  the  civil  war.  Had  the  Protector  and  the  Parliament 
been  suffered  to  proceed  undisturbed,  there  can  be  little  doubt 
that  an  order  of  things  similar  to  that  which  was  afterwards 
established  under  the  House  of  Hanover   would   have   been 


established  under  the  House  of  Cromwell.  But  there  was  in 
the  State  a  power  more  than  sufficient  to  deal  with  Protector 
and  Parliament  together.  Over  the  soldiers  Richard  had  no 
authority  except  that  which  he  derived  from  the  great  name 
which  he  had  inherited.  He  had  never  led  them  to  victory. 
He  had  never  even  borne  arms.  All  his  tastes  and  habits  were 
pacific.  Nor  were  his  opinions  and  feelings  on  religious  sub- 
jects approved  by  the  military  saints.  That  he  was  a  good 
man  he  evinced  by  proofs  more  satisfactory  than  deep  groans 
or  long  sermons,  by  humility  and  suavity  when  he  was  at  the 
height  of  human  greatness,  and  by  cheerful  resignation  under 
cruel  wrongs  and  misfortunes :  but  the  cant  then  common  in 
every  guardroom  gave  him  a  disgust  which  he  had  not  always 
the  prudence  to  conceal.  The  officers  who  had  the  principal 
influence  among  the  troops  stationed  near  London  were  not  his 
friends.  They  were  men  distinguished  by  valour  and  conduct 
in  the  field,  but  destitute  of  the  wisdom  and  civil  courage 
which  had  been  conspicuous  in  their  deceased  leader.  Some 
of  them  were  honest,  but  fanatical,  Independents  and 
Republicans.  Of  this  class  Fleetwood  was  the  representative. 
Others  were  impatient  to  be  what  Oliver  had  been.  His  rapid 
elevation,  his  prosperity  and  glory,  his  inauguration  in  the  Hall, 
and  his  gorgeous  obsequies  in  the  Abbey,  had  inflamed  their 
imagination.  They  were  as  well  born  as  he,  and  as  well 
educated  :  they  could  not  understand  why  they  were  not  as 
worthy  to  wear  the  purple  robe,  and  to  wield  the  sword  of 
state ;  and  they  pursued  the  objects  of  their  wild  ambition,  not, 
like  him,  with  patience,  vigilance,  sagacity,  and  determination, 
but  with  the  restlessness  and  irresolution  characteristic  of  aspir- 
ing mediocrity.  Among  these  feeble  copies  of  a  great  original 
the  most  conspicuous  was  Lambert. 

On  the  very  day  of  Richard's  accession  the  officers  began  to 
conspire  against  their  new  master.  The  good  understanding 
which  existed  between  him  and  his  Parliament  hastened  the 
crisis.  Alarm  and  resentment  spread  through  the  camp.  Both 
the  religious  and  the  professional  feelings  of  the  army  were 
deeply  wounded.  It  seemed  that  the  Independents  were  to  be 
subjected  to  the  Presbyterians,  and  that  the  men  of  the  sword 
were  to  be  subjected  to  the  men  of  the  gown.  A  coalition  was 
formed  between  the  military  malecontents  and  the  republican 
minority  of  the  House  of  Commons.  It  may  well  be  doubted 
whether  Richard  could  have  triumphed  over  that  coalition,  even 
if  he  had  inherited  his  father's  clear  judgment  and  iron  courage. 
It  is  certain  that  simplicity  and  meekness  like  his  were  not  the 


qualities  which  the  conjuncture  required.  He  fell  ingloriously, 
and  without  a  struggle.  He  was  used  by  the  army  as  an 
instrument  for  the  purpose  of  dissolving  the  Parliament,  and 
was  then  contemptuously  thrown  aside.  The  officers  gratified 
their  republican  allies  by  declaring  that  the  expulsion  of  the 
Rump  had  been  illegal,  and  by  inviting  that  assembly  to 
resume  its  functions.  The  old  Speaker  and  a  quorum  of  the 
old  members  came  together  and  were  proclaimed,  amidst  the 
scarcely  stifled  derision  and  execration  of  the  whole  nation,  the 
supreme  power  in  the  State.  It  was  at  the  same  time  expressly 
declared  that  there  should  be  no  first  magistrate,  and  no  House 
of  Lords. 

But  this  state  of  things  could  not  last.  On  the  day  on 
which  the  Long  Parliament  revived,  revived  also  its  old  quarrel 
with  the  army.  Again  the  Rump  forgot  that  it  owed  its 
existence  to  the  pleasure  of  the  soldiers,  and  began  to  treat 
them  as  subjects.  Again  the  doors  of  the  House  of  Commons 
were  closed  by  military  violence ;  and  a  provisional  govern- 
ment, named  by  the  officers,  assumed  the  direction  of  affairs. 

Meanwhile  the  sense  of  great  evils,  and  the  strong  appre- 
hension of  still  greater  evils  close  at  hand,  had  at  length 
produced  an  alliance  between  the  Cavaliers  and  the  Presby- 
terians. Some  Presbyterians  had,  indeed,  been  disposed  to 
such  an  alliance  even  before  the  death  of  Charles  the  First : 
but  it  was  not  till  after  the  fall  of  Richard  Cromwell  that  the 
whole  party  became  eager  for  the  restoration  of  the  royal 
house.  There  was  no  longer  any  reasonable  hope  that  the 
old  constitution  could  be  reestablished  under  a  new  dynasty. 
One  choice  only  was  left,  the  Stuarts  or  the  army.  The 
banished  family  had  committed  great  faults ;  but  it  had  dearly 
expiated  those  faults,  and  had  undergone  a  long,  and,  it  might 
be  hoped,  a  salutary  training  in  the  school  of  adversity.  It 
was  probable  that  Charles  the  Second  would  take  warning  by 
the  fate  of  Charles  the  First.  But,  be  this  as  it  might,  the 
dangers  which  threatened  the  country  were  such  that,  in  order 
to  avert  them,  some  opinions  might  well  be  compromised,  and 
some  risks  might  well  be  incurred.  It  seemed  but  too  likely 
that  England  would  fall  under  the  most  odious  and  degrading 
of  all  kinds  of  government,  under  a  government  uniting  all  the 
evils  of  despotism  to  all  the  evils  of  anarchy.  Anything  was 
preferable  to  the  yoke  of  a  succession  of  incapable  and 
inglorious  tyrants,  raised  to  power,  like  the  Deys  of  Barbary, 
by  military  revolutions  recurring  at  short  intervals.  Lambert 
seemed  likely  to  be  the  first  of  these  rulers ;  but  within  a  year 


Lambert  might  give  place  to  Desborough,  and  Desborough  to 
Harrison.  As  often  as  the  truncheon  was  transferred  from 
one  feeble  hand  to  another,  the  nation  would  be  pillaged  for 
the  purpose  of  bestowing  a  fresh  donative  on  the  troops. 
If  the  Presbyterians  obstinately  stood  aloof  from  the  Royalists, 
the  State  was  lost ;  and  men  might  well  doubt  whether,  by  the 
combined  exertions  of  Presbyterians  and  Royalists,  it  could  be 
saved.  For  the  dread  of  that  invincible  army  was  on  all  the 
inhabitants  of  the  island ;  and  the  Cavaliers,  taught  by  a 
hundred  disastrous  fields  how  little  numbers  can  effect  against 
discipline,  were  even  more  completely  cowed  than  the 

While  the  soldiers  remained  united,  all  the  plots  and  risings 
of  the  malecontents  were  ineffectual.  But  a  few  days  after  the 
second  expulsion  of  the  Rump,  came  tidings  which  gladdened 
the  hearts  of  all  who  were  attached  either  to  monarchy  or  to 
liberty.  That  mighty  force  which  had,  during  many  years, 
acted  as  one  man,  and  which,  while  so  acting,  had  been  found 
irresistible,  was  at  length  divided  against  itself.  The  army 
of  Scotland  had  done  good  service  to  the  Commonwealth, 
and  was  in  the  highest  state  of  efficiency.  It  had  borne 
no  part  in  the  late  revolutions,  and  had  seen  them  with 
indignation  resembling  the  indignation  which  the  Roman 
legions  posted  on  the  Danube  and  the  Euphrates  felt,  when 
they  learned  that  the  empire  had  been  put  up  to  sale  by  the 
Praetorian  Guards.  It  was  intolerable  that  certain  regiments 
should,  merely  because  they  happened  to  be  quartered 
near  Westminster,  take  on  themselves  to  make  and  unmake 
several  governments  in  the  course  of  half  a  year.  If  it 
were  fit  that  the  state  should  be  regulated  by  the  soldiers, 
those  soldiers  who  upheld  the  English  ascendency  on  the 
north  of  the  Tweed  were  as  well  entitled  to  a  voice  as  those 
who  garrisoned  the  Tower  of  London.  There  appears  to 
have  been  less  fanaticism  among  the  troops  stationed  in 
Scotland  than  in  any  other  part  of  the  army ;  and  their 
general,  George  Monk,  was  himself  the  very  opposite  of  a 
zealot.  He  had,  at  the  commencement  of  the  civil  war,  borne 
arms  for  the  King,  had  been  made  prisoner  by  the  Round- 
heads, had  then  accepted  a  commission  from  the  Parliament, 
and,  with  very  slender  pretensions  to  saintship,  had  raised 
himself  to  high  commands  by  his  courage  and  professional 
skill.  He  had  been  an  useful  servant  to  both  the  Protectors, 
had  quietly  acquiesced  when  the  officers  at  Westminster  pulled 
down  Richard  and  restored  the  Long  Parliament,  and  would 


perhaps  have  acquiesced  as  quietly  in  the  second  expulsion  of 
the  Long  Parliament,  if  the  provisional  government  had  ab- 
stained from  giving  him  cause  of  offence  and  apprehension. 
For  his  nature  was  cautious  and  somewhat  sluggish  ;  nor  was 
he  at  all  disposed  to  hazard  sure  and  moderate  advantages  for 
the  chance  of  obtaining  even  the  most  splendid  success.  He 
seems  to  have  been  impelled  to  attack  the  new  rulers  of  the 
commonwealth  less  by  the  hope  that,  if  he  overthrew  them, 
he  should  become  great,  than  by  the  fear  that,  if  he  submitted 
to  them,  he  should  not  even  be  secure.  Whatever  were  his 
motives,  he  declared  himself  the  champion  of  the  oppressed 
civil  power,  refused  to  acknowledge  the  usurped  authority  of 
the  provisional  government,  and,  at  the  head  of  seven  thousand 
veterans,  marched  into  England. 

This  step  was  the  signal  for  a  general  explosion.  The 
people  everywhere  refused  to  pay  taxes.  The  apprentices  of 
the  City  assembled  by  thousands  and  clamoured  for  a  free 
Parliament.  The  fleet  sailed  up  the  Thames,  and  declared 
against  the  tyranny  of  the  soldiers.  The  soldiers,  no  longer 
under  the  control  of  one  commanding  mind,  separated  into 
factions.  Every  regiment,  afraid  lest  it  should  be  left  alone  a 
mark  for  the  vengeance  of  the  oppressed  nation,  hastened 
to  make  a  separate  peace.  Lambert,  who  had  hastened  north- 
ward to  encounter  the  army  of  Scotland,  was  abandoned  by 
his  troops,  and  became  a  prisoner.  During  thirteen  years  the 
civil  power  had,  in  every  conflict,  been  compelled  to  yield  to 
the  military  power.  The  military  power  now  humbled  itself 
before  the  civil  power.  The  Rump,  generally  hated  and 
despised,  but  still  the  only  body  in  the  country  which  had  any 
show  of  legal  authority,  returned  again  to  the  house  from 
which  it  had  been  twice  ignominiously  expelled. 

In  the  meantime  Monk  was  advancing  towards  London. 
Wherever  he  came,  the  gentry  flocked  round  him,  imploring 
him  to  use  his  power  for  the  purpose  of  restoring  peace  and 
liberty  to  the  distracted  nation.  The  General,  coldblooded, 
taciturn,  zealous  for  no  polity  and  for  no  religion,  maintained 
an  impenetrable  reserve.  What  were  at  this  time  his  plans, 
and  whether  he  had  any  plan,  may  well  be  doubted.  His 
great  object,  apparently,  was  to  keep  himself,  as  long  as 
possible,  free  to  choose  between  several  lines  of  action. 
Such,  indeed,  is  commonly  the  policy  of  men  who  are,  like 
him,  distinguished  rather  by  wariness  than  by  farsightedness. 
It  was  probably  not  till  he  had  been  some  days  in  the  capital 
that  he  made  up  his  mind.     The  cry  of  the  whole  people  was 


Ibr  a  free  Parliament ;  and  there  could  be  no  doubt  that  a 
Parliament  really  free  would  instantly  restore  the  exiled  family. 
The  Rump  and  the  soldiers  were  still  hostile  to  the  House  of 
Stuart.  But  the  Rump  was  universally  detested  and  despised. 
The  power  of  the  soldiers  was  indeed  still  formidable,  but  had 
been  greatly  diminished  by  discord.  They  had  no  head. 
They  had  recently  been,  in  many  parts  of  the  country,  arrayed 
against  each  other.  On  the  very  day  before  Monk  reached 
London,  there  was  a  fight  in  the  Strand  between  the  cavalry 
and  the  infantry.  An  united  army  had  long  kept  down  a 
divided  nation :  but  the  nation  was  now  united,  and  the  army 
was  divided. 

During  a  short  time,  the  dissimulation  or  irresolution  of 
Monk  kept  all  parties  in  a  state  of  painful  suspense.  At  length 
he  broke  silence,  and  declared  for  a  free  Parliament. 

As  soon  as  his  declaration  was  known,  the  whole  nation  was 
wild  with  delight.  Wherever  he  appeared  thousands  thronged 
round  him,  shouting  and  blessing  his  name.  The  bells  of  all 
England  rang  joyously  :  the  gutters  ran  with  ale :  and,  night 
after  night,  the  sky  five  miles  round  London  was  reddened  by 
innumerable  bonfires.  Those  Presbyterian  members  of  the 
House  of  Commons  who  had  many  years  before  been  expelled 
by  the  army,  returned  to  their  seats,  and  were  hailed  with 
acclamations  by  great  multitudes,  which  filled  Westminster  Hall 
and  Palace  Yard.  The  Independent  leaders  no  longer  dared 
to  show  their  faces  in  the  streets,  and  were  scarcely  safe  within 
their  own  dwellings.  Temporary  provision  was  made  for  the 
government :  writs  were  issued  for  a  general  election  ;  and 
then  that  memorable  Parliament,  which  had,  during  twenty 
eventful  years,  experienced  every  variety  of  fortune,  which  had 
triumphed  over  its  sovereign,  which  had  been  enslaved  and 
degraded  by  its  servants,  which  had  been  twice  ejected  and 
twice  restored,  solemnly  decreed  its  own  dissolution. 

The  result  of  the  elections  was  such  as  might  have  been 
expected  from  the  temper  of  the  nation.  The  new  House  of 
Commons  consisted,  with  few  exceptions,  of  persons  friendly 
to  the  royal  family.     The  Presbyterians  formed  the  majority. 

That  there  would  be  a  restoration  now  seemed  almost 
certain  ;  but  whether  there  would  be  a  peaceable  restoration  was 
matter  of  painful  doubt.  The  soldiers  were  in  a  gloomy  and 
savage  mood.  They  hated  the  title  of  King.  They 
hated  the  name  of  Stuart.  They  hated  Presbyterianism 
much,  and  Prelacy  more.  They  saw  with  bitter  indignation 
that    the   close    of  their  long    domination    was   approaching, 


and  that  a  life  of  inglorious  toil  and  penury  was  before 
them.  They  attributed  their  ill  fortune  to  the  weakness 
of  some  generals,  and  to  the  treason  of  others.  One  hour 
of  their  beloved  Oliver  might  even  now  restore  the  glory 
which  had  departed.  Betrayed,  disunited,  and  left  without 
any  chief  in  whom  they  could  confide,  they  were  yet  to  be 
dreaded.  It  was  no  light  thing  to  encounter  the  rage  and 
despair  of  fifty  thousand  fighting  men,  whose  backs  no  enemy 
had  ever  seen.  Monk,  and  those  with  whom  he  acted,  were 
well  aware  that  the  crisis  was  most  perilous.  They  employed 
every  art  to  soothe  and  to  divide  the  discontented  warriors.  At 
the  same  time  vigorous  preparation  was  made  for  a  conflict. 
The  army  of  Scotland,  now  quartered  in  London,  was  kept 
in  good  humour  by  bribes,  praises,  and  promises.  The 
wealthy  citizens  grudged  nothing  to  a  red  coat,  and  were  indeed 
so  liberal  of  their  best  wine,  that  warlike  saints  were  sometimes 
seen  in  a  condition  not  very  honourable  either  to  their  religious 
or  to  their  military  character.  Some  refractory  regiments 
Monk  ventured  to  disband.  In  the  meantime  the  greatest 
exertions  were  made  by  the  provisional  government,  with  the 
strenuous  aid  of  the  whole  body  of  the  gentry  and  magistracy, 
to  organize  the  militia.  In  every  county  the  trainbands  were 
held  ready  to  march ;  and  this  force  cannot  be  estimated  at 
less  than  a  hundred  and  twenty  thousand  men.  In  Hyde  Park 
twenty  thousand  citizens,  well  armed  and  accoutred,  passed  in 
review,  and  showed  a  spirit  which  justified  the  hope  that,  in 
case  of  need,  they  would  fight  manfully  for  their  shops  and 
firesides.  The  fleet  was  heartily  with  the  nation.  It  was  a 
stirring  time,  a  time  of  anxiety,  yet  of  hope.  The  prevailing 
opinion  was  that  England  would  be  delivered,  but  not  without 
a  desperate  and  bloody  struggle,  and  that  the  class  which  had 
so  long  ruled  by  the  sword  would  perish  by  the  sword. 

Happily  the  dangers  of  a  conflict  were  averted.  There  was 
indeed  one  moment  of  extreme  peril.  Lambert  escaped  from 
his  confinement,  and  called  his  comrades  to  arms.  The  flame 
of  civil  war  was  actually  rekindled  ;  but  by  prompt  and  vigorous 
exertion  it  was  trodden  out  before  it  had  time  to  spread.  The 
luckless  imitator  of  Cromwell  was  again  a  prisoner.  The  failure 
of  his  enterprise  damped  the  spirit  of  the  soldiers ;  and  they 
sullenly  resigned  themselves  to  their  fate. 

The  new  Parliament,  which,  having  been  called  without  the 
royal  writ,  is  more  accurately  described  as  a  Convention,  met 
at  Westminster.  The  Lords  repaired  to  the  hall,  from  which 
they    had,    during  more    than    eleven    years,    been    excluded 


by  force.  Both  Houses  instantly  invited  the  King  to  return  to 
his  country.  He  was  proclaimed  with  pomp  never  before 
known.  A  gallant  fleet  convoyed  him  from  Holland  to  the 
coast  of  Kent.  When  he  landed,  the  cUffs  of  Dover  were 
covered  by  thousands  of  gazers,  among  whom  scarcely  one 
could  be  found  who  was  not  weeping  with  delight.  The 
journey  to  London  was  a  continued  triumph.  The  whole  road 
from  Rochester  was  bordered  by  booths  and  tents,  and  looked 
like  an  interminable  fair.  Everywhere  flags  were  flying,  bells 
and  music  sounding,  wine  and  ale  flowing  in  rivers  to  the 
health  of  him  whose  return  was  the  return  of  peace,  of  law, 
and  of  freedom.  But  in  the  midst  of  the  general  joy,  one  spot 
presented  a  dark  and  threatening  aspect.  On  Blackheath  the 
army  was  drawn  up  to  welcome  the  sovereign.  He  smiled, 
bowed,  and  extended  his  hand  graciously  to  the  Hps  of  the 
colonels  and  majors.  But  all  his  courtesy  was  vain.  The 
countenances  of  the  soldiers  were  sad  and  lowering  ;  and,  had 
they  given  way  to  their  feelings,  the  festive  pageant  of  which 
they  reluctantly  made  a  part  would  have  had  a  mournful  and 
bloody  end.  But  there  was  no  concert  among  them.  Discord 
and  defection  had  left  them  no  confidence  in  their  chiefs  or  in 
each  other.  The  whole  array  of  the  City  of  London  was 
under  arms.  Numerous  companies  of  militia  had  assembled 
from  various  parts  of  the  realm,  under  the  command  of  loyal 
noblemen  and  gentlemen,  to  welcome  the  King.  That  great 
day  closed  in  peace ;  and  the  restored  wanderer  reposed  safe 
in  the  palace  of  his  ancestors. 


The  history  of  England,  during  the  seventeenth  century,  is  the 
history  of  the  transformation  of  a  limited  monarchy,  constituted 
after  the  fashion  of  the  middle  ages,  into  a  limited  monarchy 
suited  to  that  more  advanced  state  of  society  in  which  the 
public  charges  can  no  longer  be  borne  by  the  estates  of  the 
crown,  and  in  which  the  public  defence  can  no  longer  be 
entrusted  to  a  feudal  militia.  We  have  seen  that  the  politicians 
who  were  at  the  head  of  the  Long  Parliament  made,  in  1642, 
a  great  effort  to  accomplish  this  change  by  transferring,  directly 
and  formally,  to  the  Estates  of  the  realm  the  choice  of  ministers, 


the  command  of  the  army,  and  the  superintendence  of  the 
whole  executive  administration.  This  scheme  was,  perhaps, 
the  best  that  could  then  be  contrived :  but  it  was  completely 
disconcerted  by  the  course  which  the  civil  war  took.  The 
Houses  triumphed,  it  is  true ;  but  not  till  after  such  a  struggle 
as  made  it  necessary  for  them  to  call  into  existence  a  power 
which  they  could  not  control,  and  which  soon  began  to  domineer 
over  all  orders  and  all  parties.  For  a  time,  the  evils  inseparable 
from  military  government  were,  in  some  degree,  mitigated  by  the 
wisdom  and  magnanimity  of  the  great  man  who  held  the 
supreme  command.  But,  when  the  sword  which  he  had 
wielded,  with  energy  indeed,  but  with  energy  always  guided  by 
good  sense  and  generally  tempered  by  good  nature,  had  passed 
to  captains  who  possessed  neither  his  abilities  nor  his  virtues,  it 
seemed  too  probable  that  order  and  liberty  would  perish  in  one 
ignominious  ruin. 

That  ruin  was  happily  averted.  It  has  been  too  much  the 
practice  of  writers  zealous  for  freedom  to  represent  the 
Restoration  as  a  disastrous  event,  and  to  condemn  the  folly  or 
baseness  of  that  Convention  which  recalled  the  royal  family 
without  exacting  new  securities  against  maladministration. 
Those  who  hold  this  language  do  not  comprehend  the  real 
nature  of  the  crisis  which  followed  the  deposition  of  Richard 
Cromwell.  England  was  in  imminent  danger  of  sinking  under 
the  tyranny  of  a  succession  of  small  men  raised  up  and  pulled 
down  by  military  caprice.  To  deliver  the  country  from  the 
domination  of  the  soldiers  was  the  first  object  of  every 
enlightened  patriot :  but  it  was  an  object  which,  while  the 
soldiers  were  united,  the  most  sanguine  could  scarcely  expect 
to  attain.  On  a  sudden  a  gleam  of  hope  appeared.  General 
was  opposed  to  general,  army  to  army.  On  the  use  which 
might  be  made  of  one  auspicious  moment  depended  the  future 
destiny  of  the  nation.  Our  ancestors  used  that  moment  well. 
They  forgot  old  injuries,  waved  petty  scruples,  adjourned  to  a 
more  convenient  season  all  dispute  about  the  reforms  which 
our  institutions  needed,  and  stood  together,  Cavaliers  and 
Roundheads,  Episcopalians  and  Presbyterians,  in  firm  union, 
for  the  old  laws  of  the  land  against  military  despotism.  The 
exact  partition  of  power  among  King,  Lords,  and  Commons, 
might  well  be  postponed  till  it  had  been  decided  whether 
England  should  be  governed  by  King,  Lords,  and  Commons, 
or  by  cuirassiers  and  pikemen.  Had  the  statesmen  of  the 
Convention  taken  a  different  course,  had  they  held  long  debates 
on  the  principles  of  government,  had  they  drawn  up  a  new 


constitution  and  sent  it  to  Charles,  had  conferences  been 
opened,  had  couriers  been  passing  and  repassing  during  some 
weeks  between  Westminster  and  the  Netherlands,  with  projects 
and  counterprojects,  replies  by  Hyde  and  rejoinders  by  Prynne, 
the  coalition  on  which  the  public  safety  depended  would  have 
been  dissolved :  the  Presbyterians  and  Royalists  would  cer- 
tainly have  quarrelled :  the  military  factions  might  possibly 
have  been  reconciled  :  and  the  misjudging  friends  of  liberty 
might  long  have  regretted,  under  a  rule  worse  than  that  of  the 
worst  Stuart,  the  golden  opportunity  which  had  been  suffered 
to  escape. 

The  old  civil  polity  was,  therefore,  by  the  general  consent  of 
both  the  great  parties,  re-established.  It  was  again  exactly 
what  it  had  been  when  Charles  the  First,  eighteen  years  before, 
withdrew  from  his  capital.  All  those  acts  of  the  Long 
Parliament  which  had  received  the  royal  assent  were  admitted 
to  be  still  in  full  force.  One  fresh  concession,  a  concession  in 
which  the  Cavaliers  were  even  more  deeply  interested  than  the 
Roundheads,  was  easily  obtained  from  the  restored  King.  The 
military  tenure  of  land  had  been  originally  created  as  a  means 
of  national  defence.  But  in  the  course  of  ages  whatever  was 
useful  in  the  institution  had  disappeared ;  and  nothing  was  left 
but  ceremonies  and  grievances.  A  landed  proprietor  who  held 
an  estate  under  the  crown  by  knight  service, — and  it  was  thus 
that  most  of  the  soil  of  England  was  held, — had  to  pay  a  large 
fine  on  coming  to  his  property.  He  could  not  alienate  one 
acre  without  purchasing  a  license.  When  he  died,  if  his 
domains  descended  to  an  infant,  the  sovereign  was  guardian, 
and  was  not  only  entitled  to  great  part  of  the  rents  during  the 
minority,  but  could  require  the  ward,  under  heavy  penalties,  to 
marry  any  person  of  suitable  rank.  The  chief  bait  which 
attracted  a  needy  sycophant  to  the  court  was  the  hope  of 
obtaining  as  the  reward  of  servility  and  flattery,  a  royal  letter 
to  an  heiress.  These  abuses  had  perished  with  the  monarchy. 
That  they  should  not  revive  with  it  was  the  wish  of  every 
landed  gentleman  in  the  kingdom.  They  were,  therefore, 
solemnly  abolished  by  statute ;  and  no  relic  of  the  ancient 
tenures  in  chivalry  was  suffered  to  remain,  except  those 
honorary  services  which  are  still,  at  a  coronation,  rendered  to 
the  person  of  the  sovereign  by  some  lords  of  manors. 

The  troops  were  now  to  be  disbanded.  Fifty  thousand  men, 
accustomed  to  the  profession  of  arms,  were  at  once  thrown  on 
the  world :  and  experience  seemed  to  warrant  the  belief  that 
this  change  would  produce  much  misery  and  crime,  that  the 


discharged  veterans  would  be  seen  begging  in  every  street,  or 
that  they  would  be  driven  by  hunger  to  pillage.  But  no  such 
result  followed.  In  a  few  months  there  remained  not  a  trace 
indicating  that  the  most  formidable  army  in  the  world  had  just 
been  absorbed  into  the  mass  of  the  community.  The  Royalists 
themselves  confessed  that,  in  every  department  of  honest 
industry,  the  discarded  warriors  prospered  beyond  other  men, 
that  none  was  charged  with  any  theft  or  robbery,  that  none 
was  heard  to  ask  an  alms,  and  that,  if  a  baker,  a  mason,  or 
a  waggoner  attracted  notice  by  his  diligence  and  sobriety,  he 
was  in  all  probability  one  of  Oliver's  old  soldiers. 

The  military  tyranny  had  passed  away  ;  but  it  had  left  deep 
and  enduring  traces  in  the  public  mind.  The  name  of  a 
standing  army  was  long  held  in  abhorrence :  and  it  is  remark- 
able that  this  feeUng  was  even  stronger  among  the  Cavaliers 
than  among  the  Roundheads.  It  ought  to  be  considered  as  a 
most  fortunate  circumstance  that,  when  our  country  was,  for 
the  first  and  last  time,  ruled  by  the  sword,  the  sword  was  in  the 
hands,  not  of  her  legitimate  princes,  but  of  those  rebels  who 
slew  the  King  and  demolished  the  Church.  Had  a  prince, 
with  a  title  as  good  as  that  of  Charles,  commanded  an 
army  as  good  as  that  of  Cromwell,  there  would  have 
been  little  hope  indeed  for  the  liberties  of  England. 
Happily  that  instrument  by  which  alone  the  monarchy  could 
be  made  absolute  became  an  object  of  peculiar  horror  and 
disgust  to  the  monarchical  party,  and  long  continued  to  be 
inseparably  associated  in  the  imagination  of  Royalists  and 
Prelatists  with  regicide  and  field  preaching.  A  century  after 
the  death  of  Cromwell,  the  Tories  still  continued  to  clamour 
against  every  augmentation  of  the  regular  soldiery,  and  to 
sound  the  praise  of  a  national  militia.  So  late  as  the  year 
1786,  a  minister  who  enjoyed  no  common  measure  of  their 
confidence  found  it  impossible  to  overcome  their  aversion  to 
his  scheme  of  fortifying  the  coast :  nor  did  they  ever  look  with 
entire  complacency  on  the  standing  army,  till  the  French 
Revolution  gave  a  new  direction  to  their  apprehensions. 

The  coalition  which  had  restored  the  King  terminated  with 
the  danger  from  which  it  had  sprung;  and  two  hostile  parties 
again  appeared  ready  for  conflict.  Both  indeed  were  agreed  as 
to  the  propriety  of  inflicting  punishment  on  some  unhappy  men 
who  were,  at  that  moment,  objects  of  almost  universal  hatred. 
Cromwell  was  no  more ;  and  those  who  had  fled  before  him 
were  forced  to  content  themselves  with  the  miserable  satis- 
faction of  digging  up,   hanging,  quartering,  and  burning  the 


remains  of  the  greatest  prince  that  has  ever  ruled  England. 
Other  objects  of  vengeance,  few  indeed,  yet  too  many,  were 
found  among  the  republican  chiefs.  Soon,  however,  the 
conquerors,  glutted  with  the  blood  of  the  regicides,  turned 
against  each  other.  The  Roundheads,  while  admitting  the 
virtues  of  the  late  King,  and  while  condemning  the  sentence 
passed  upon  him  by  an  illegal  tribunal,  yet  maintained  that  his 
administration  had  been,  in  many  things,  unconstitutional,  and 
that  the  Houses  had  taken  arms  against  him  from  good  motives 
and  on  strong  grounds.  The  monarchy,  these  politicians  con- 
ceived, had  no  worse  enemy  than  the  flatterer  who  exalted  the 
prerogative  above  the  law,  who  condemned  all  opposition  to 
regal  encroachments,  and  who  reviled,  not  only  Cromwell  and 
Harrison,  but  Pym  and  Hampden,  as  traitors.  If  the  King 
wished  for  a  quiet  and  prosperous  reign,  he  must  confide  in 
those  who,  though  they  had  drawn  the  sword  in  defence  of  the 
invaded  privileges  of  Parliament,  had  yet  exposed  themselves 
to  the  rage  of  the  soldiers  in  order  to  save  his  father,  and  had 
taken  the  chief  part  in  bringing  back  the  royal  family. 

The  feeling  of  the  Cavaliers  was  widely  different.  During 
eighteen  years  they  had,  through  all  vicissitudes,  been  faithful 
to  the  crown.  Having  shared  the  distress  of  their  prince,  were 
they  not  to  share  his  triumph  ?  Was  no  distinction  to  be  made 
between  them  and  the  disloyal  subject  who  had  fought  against 
his  rightful  sovereign,  who  had  adhered  to  Richard  Cromwell, 
and  who  had  never  concurred  in  the  restoration  of  the  Stuarts, 
till  it  appeared  that  nothing  else  could  save  the  nation  from  the 
tyranny  of  the  army?  Grant  that  such  a  man  had,  by  his 
recent  services,  fairly  earned  his  pardon.  Yet  were  his  services, 
rendered  at  the  eleventh  hour,  to  be  put  in  comparison  wdth 
the  toils  and  sufferings  of  those  who  had  borne  the  burden  and 
heat  of  the  day  ?  Was  he  to  be  ranked  with  men  who  had  no 
need  of  the  royal  clemency,  with  men  who  had,  in  every  part 
of  their  lives,  merited  the  royal  gratitude.  Above  all,  was  he 
to  be  suffered  to  retain  a  fortune  raised  out  of  the  substance  of 
the  ruined  defenders  of  the  throne  ?  Was  it  not  enough  that 
his  head  and  his  patrimonial  estate,  a  hundred  times  forfeited 
to  justice,  were  secure,  and  that  he  shared,  with  the  rest  of  the 
nation,  in  the  blessings  of  that  mild  government  of  which  he 
had  long  been  the  foe  ?  Was  it  necessary  that  he  should  be 
rewarded  for  his  treason  at  the  expense  of  men  whose  only 
crime  was  the  fidelity  with  which  they  had  observed  their  oath 
of  allegiance  ?  And  what  interest  had  the  King  in  gorging  his 
old  enemies  with  prey  torn  from  his  old  friends?     What  con- 


fidence  could  be  placed  in  men  who  had  opposed  their 
sovereign,  made  war  on  him,  imprisoned  him,  and  who,  even 
now,  instead  of  hanging  down  their  heads  in  shame  and  con- 
trition, vindicated  all  that  they  had  done,  and  seemed  to  think 
that  they  had  given  an  illustrious  proof  of  loyalty  by  just 
stopping  short  of  regicide  ?  It  was  true  that  they  had  lately 
assisted  to  set  up  the  throne  :  but  it  was  not  less  true  that  they 
had  previously  pulled  it  down,  and  that  they  still  avowed 
principles  which  might  impel  them  to  pull  it  down  again. 
Undoubtedly  it  might  be  fit  that  marks  of  royal  approbation 
should  be  bestowed  on  some  converts  who  had  been  eminently 
useful :  but  policy,  as  well  as  justice  and  gratitude,  enjoined 
the  King  to  give  the  highest  place  in  his  regard  to  those  who, 
from  first  to  last,  through  good  and  evil,  had  stood  by  his 
house.  On  these  grounds  the  Cavaliers  very  naturally 
demanded  indemnity  for  all  that  they  had  suffered,  and  pre- 
ference in  the  distribution  of  the  favours  of  the  crown.  Some 
violent  members  of  the  party  went  further,  and  clamoured  for 
large  categories  of  proscription. 

The  political  feud  was,  as  usual,  exasperated  by  a  religious 
feud.  The  King  found  the  Church  in  a  singular  state.  A  short 
time  before  the  commencement  of  the  civil  war,  his  father  had 
given  a  reluctant  assent  to  a  bill,  strongly  supported  by  Falkland, 
which  deprived  the  Bishops  of  their  seats  in  the  House  of 
Lords  :  but  Episcopacy  and  the  Liturgy  had  never  been 
abolished  by  law.  The  Long  Parliament,  however,  had  passed 
ordinances  which  had  made  a  complete  revolution  in  Church 
government  and  in  public  worship.  The  new  system  was,  in 
principle,  scarcely  less  Erastian  than  that  which  it  displaced. 
The  Houses,  guided  chiefly  by  the  counsels  of  the  accom- 
plished Selden,  had  determined  to  keep  the  spiritual  power 
strictly  subordinate  to  the  temporal  power.  They  had  refused 
to  declare  that  any  form  of  ecclesiastical  polity  was  of  divine 
origin  ;  and  they  had  provided  that,  from  all  the  Church  courts, 
an  appeal  should  lie  in  the  last  resort  to  Parliament.  With 
this  higlily  important  reservation  it  had  been  resolved  to  set 
up  in  England  a  hierarchy  closely  resembling  that  which  now 
exists  in  Scotland.  The  authority  of  councils,  rising  one 
above  another  in  regular  gradation,  was  substituted  for  the 
authority  of  Bishops  and  Archbishops.  The  Liturgy  gave 
place  to  the  Presbyterian  directory.  But  scarcely  had  the  new 
regulations  been  framed,  when  the  Independents  rose  to 
supreme  influence  in  the  state.  The  Independents  had  no 
disposition  to  enforce  the  ordinances  touching  classical,  pro- 


vincial,  and  national  synods.  Those  ordinances,  therefore, 
were  never  carried  into  full  execution.  The  Presbyterian 
system  was  fully  established  nowhere  but  in  Middlesex  and 
Lancashire.  In  the  other  fifty  counties,  almost  every  parish 
seems  to  have  been  unconnected  with  the  neighbouring 
parishes.  In  some  districts,  indeed,  the  ministers  formed  them- 
selves into  voluntary  associations,  for  the  purpose  of  mutual 
help  and  counsel ;  but  these  associations  had  no  coercive  power. 
The  patrons  of  livings,  being  now  checked  by  neither  Bishop 
nor  Presbytery,  would  have  been  at  liberty  to  confide  the  cure 
of  souls  to  the  most  scandalous  of  mankind,  but  for  the  arbi- 
trary intervention  of  Oliver.  He  established,  by  his  own 
authority,  a  board  of  commissioners,  called  Triers.  Most  of 
these  persons  were  Independent  divines  ;  but  a  few  Presby- 
terian ministers  and  a  few  laymen  had  seats.  The  certificate 
of  the  Triers  stood  in  the  place  both  of  institution  and  of 
induction ;  and  without  such  a  certificate  no  person  could 
hold  a  benefice.  This  was  undoubtedly  one  of  the  most 
despotic  acts  ever  done  by  any  English  ruler.  Yet,  as  it  was 
generally  felt  that,  without  some  such  precaution,  the  country 
would  be  overrun  by  ignorant  and  drunken  reprobates,  bearing 
the  name  and  receiving  the  pay  of  ministers,  some  highly 
respectable  persons,  who  were  not  in  general  friendly  to 
Cromwell,  allowed  that,  on  this  occasion,  he  had  been  a  public 
benefactor.  The  presentees  whom  the  Triers  had  approved 
took  possession  of  the  rectories,  cultivated  the  glebe  lands, 
collected  the  tithes,  prayed  without  book  or  surplice,  and 
administered  the  Eucharist  to  communicants  seated  at  long 

Thus  the  ecclesiastical  polity  of  the  realm  was  in  inextricable 
confusion.  Episcopacy  was  the  form  of  government  prescribed 
by  the  old  law  which  was  still  unrepealed.  The  form  of 
government  prescribed  by  parliamentary  ordinance  was  Pres- 
byterian. But  neither  the  old  law  nor  the  parliamentary 
ordinance  was  practically  in  force.  The  Church  actually 
established  may  be  described  as  an  irregular  body  made  up 
of  a  few  Presbyteries,  and  of  many  Independent  congregations, 
which  were  all  held  down  and  held  together  by  the  authority 
of  the  government. 

Of  those  who  had  been  active  in  bringing  back  the  King, 
many  were  zealous  for  synods  and  for  the  directory,  and  many 
were  desirous  to  terminate  by  a  compromise  the  religious 
dissensions  which  had  long  agitated  England.  Between  the 
bigoted  followers  of  Laud  and  the  bigoted  followers  of  Calvin 



there  could  be  neither  peace  nor  truce  :  but  it  did  not  seem 
impossible  to  effect  an  accommodation  between  the  moderate 
Episcopalians  of  the  school  of  Usher  and  the  moderate  Pres- 
byterians of  the  school  of  Baxter.  The  moderate  Episcopalians 
would  admit  that  a  Bishop  might  lawfully  be  assisted  by  a 
council.  The  moderate  Presbyterians  would  not  deny  that 
each  provincial  assembly  might  lawfully  have  a  permanent 
president,  and  that  this  president  might  lawfully  be  called  a 
Bishop.  There  might  be  a  revised  Liturgy  which  should  not 
exclude  extemporaneous  prayer,  a  baptismal  service  in  which 
the  sign  of  the  cross  might  be  used  or  omitted  at  discretion,  a 
communion  service  at  which  the  faithful  might  sit  if  their 
consciences  forbade  them  to  kneel.  But  to  no  such  plan  could 
the  great  body  of  the  Cavaliers  listen  with  patience.  The 
religious  members  of  that  party  were  conscientiously  attached 
to  the  whole  system  of  their  Church.  She  had  been  dear  to 
their  murdered  King.  She  had  consoled  them  in  defeat  and 
penury.  Her  service,  so  often  whispered  in  an  inner  chamber 
during  the  season  of  trial,  had  such  a  charm  for  them  that  they 
were  unwilling  to  part  with  a  single  response.  Other  Royalists, 
who  made  little  pretence  to  piety,  yet  loved  the  episcopal 
Church  because  she  was  the  foe  of  their  foes.  They  valued  a 
prayer  or  a  ceremony,  not  on  account  of  the  comfort  which  it 
convey  ed  to  themselves,  but  on  account  of  the  vexation  which 
it  gave  to  the  Roundheads,  and  were  so  far  from  being  disposed 
to  purchase  union  by  concession  that  they  objected  to  conces- 
sion chiefly  because  it  tended  to  produce  union. 

Such  feelings,  though  blamable,  were  natural  and  not  wholly 
inexcusable.  The  Puritans  in  the  day  of  their  power  had 
undoubtedly  given  cruel  provocation.  They  ought  to  have 
learned,  if  from  nothing  else,  yet  from  their  own  discontents, 
from  their  own  struggles,  from  their  own  victory,  from  the  fall 
of  that  proud  hierarchy  by  which  they  had  been  so  heavily 
oppressed,  that,  in  England,  and  in  the  seventeenth  century,  it 
was  not  in  the  power  of  the  civil  magistrate  to  drill  the  minds 
of  men  into  conformity  with  his  own  system  of  theology.  They 
proved,  however,  as  intolerant  and  as  meddling  as  ever  Laud 
had  been.  They  interdicted  under  heavy  penalties  the  use  of 
the  Book  of  Common  Prayer,  not  only  in  churches,  but  even 
in  private  houses.  It  was  a  crime  in  a  child  to  read  by  the 
bedside  of  a  sick  parent  one  of  those  beautiful  collects  which 
had  soothed  the  griefs  of  forty  generations  of  Christians. 
Severe  punishments  were  denounced  against  such  as  should 
presume  to  blame  the  Calvinistic  mode  of  worship.     Clergymen 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  12  1 

of  respectable  character  were  not  only  ejected  from  their 
benefices,  by  thousands,  but  were  frequently  exposed  to  the 
outrages  of  a  fanatical  rabble.  Churches  and  sepulchres,  fine 
works  of  art  and  curious  remains  of  antiquity,  were  brutally 
defaced.  The  Parliament  resolved  that  all  pictures  in  the  royal 
collection  which  contained  representations  of  Jesus  or  of  the 
Virgin  Mother  should  be  burned.  Sculpture  fared  as  ill  as 
painting.  Nymphs  and  Graces,  the  work  of  Ionian  chisels, 
were  delivered  over  to  Puritan  stonemasons  to  be  made  decent. 
Against  the  lighter  vices  the  ruling  faction  waged  war  with  a 
zeal  little  tempered  by  humanity  or  by  common  sense.  Sharp 
laws  were  passed  against  betting.  It  was  enacted  that  adultery 
should  be  punished  with  death.  The  illicit  intercourse  of  the 
sexes,  even  where  neither  violence  nor  seduction  was  imputed, 
where  no  public  scandal  was  given,  where  no  conjugal  right  was 
violated,  was  made  a  misdemeanour.  Public  amusements, 
from  the  masques  which  were  exhibited  at  the  mansions  of  the 
great  down  to  the  wrestling  matches  and  grinning  matches 
on  village  greens,  were  vigorously  attacked.  One  ordinance 
directed  that  all  the  Maypoles  in  England  should  forthwith 
be  hewn  down.  Another  proscribed  all  theatrical  diversions. 
The  playhouses  were  to  be  dismantled,  the  spectators  fined,  the 
actors  whipped  at  the  cart's  tail.  Ropedancing,  puppetshows, 
bowls,  horseracing,  were  regarded  with  no  friendly  eye.  But 
bearbaiting,  then  a  favourite  diversion  of  high  and  low,  was  the 
abomination  which  most  strongly  stirred  the  wrath  of  the 
austere  sectaries.  It  is  to  be  remarked  that  their  antipathy  to 
this  sport  had  nothing  in  common  with  the  feeling  which  has, 
in  our  own  time,  induced  the  legislature  to  interfere  for  the 
purpose  of  protecting  beasts  against  the  wanton  cruelty  of  men. 
The  Puritan  hated  bearbaiting,  not  because  it  gave  pain  to  the 
bear,  but  because  it  gave  pleasure  to  the  spectators.  Indeed, 
he  generally  contrived  to  enjoy  the  double  pleasure  of  torment- 
ing both  spectators  and  bear.* 

*  How  little  compassion  for  the  bear  had  to  do  with  the  matter  is 
sufficiently  proved  by  the  following  extract  from  a  paper  entitled  A  perfect 
Diurnal  of  some  Passages  of  Parliament,  and  from  other  Parts  of  the  King- 
dom, from  Monday  July  24th,  to  Monday  July  31st,  1643.  "Upon  the 
queen's  coming  from  Holland,  she  brought  with  her,  besides  a  company  of 
savagelike  ruffians,  a  company  of  savage  bears,  to  what  purpose  you  may 
judge  by  the  sequel.  Those  bears  were  left  about  Newark,  and  were 
brought  into  country  towns  constantly  on  the  Lord's  day  to  be  baited,  such 
is  the  religion  those  here  related  would  settle  amongst  us  ;  and,  if  any  went 
about  to  hinder  or  but  speak  against  their  damnable  profanations,  they  were 
presently  noted  as  Roundheads  and  Puritans,  and  sure  to  be  plundered  for 


Perhaps  no  single  circumstance  more  strongly  illustrates 
the  temper  of  the  precisians  than  their  conduct  respecting 
Christmas  day.  Christmas  had  been,  from  time  immemorial, 
the  season  of  Joy  and  domestic  affection,  the  season  when 
families  assembled,  when  children  came  home  from  school, 
when  quarrels  were  made  up,  when  carols  were  heard  in  every 
street,  when  every  house  was  decorated  with  evergreens,  and 
every  table  was  loaded  with  good  cheer.  At  that  season  all 
hearts  not  utterly  destitute  of  kindness  were  enlarged  and 
softened.  At  that  season  the  poor  were  admitted  to  partake 
largely  of  the  overflowings  of  the  wealth  of  the  rich,  whose 
bounty  was  peculiarly  acceptable  on  account  of  the  shortness 
of  the  days  and  of  the  severity  of  the  weather.  At  that 
season  the  interval  between  landlord  and  tenant,  master  and 
servant,  was  less  marked  than  through  the  rest  of  the  year. 
Where  there  is  much  enjoyment  there  will  be  some  excess  : 
yet,  on  the  whole,  the  spirit  in  which  the  holiday  was  kept  was 
not  unworthy  of  a  Christian  festival.  The  Long  Parliament 
gave  orders,  in  1644,  that  the  twenty-fifth  of  December  should 
be  strictly  observed  as  a  fast,  and  that  all  men  should  pass  it 
in  humbly  bemoaning  the  great  national  sin  which  they  and 
their  fathers  had  so  often  committed  on  that  day  by  romping 
under  the  mistletoe,  eating  boar's  head,  and  drinking  ale 
flavoured  with  roasted  apples.  No  public  act  of  that  time 
seems  to  have  irritated  the  common  people  more.  On  the 
next  anniversary  of  the  festival  formidable  riots  broke  out  in 
many  places.  The  constables  were  resisted,  the  magistrates 
insulted,  the  houses  of  noted  zealots  attacked,  and  the  pro- 
scribed service  of  the  day  openly  read  in  the  churches. 

Such  was  the  spirit  of  the  extreme  Puritans,  both  Presby- 
terian and  Independent.  Oliver,  indeed,  was  little  disposed 
to  be  either  a  persecutor  or  a  meddler.  But  Oliver,  the  head 
of  a  party,  and  consequently,  to  a  great  extent,  the  slave  of 
a  party,  could   not   govern  altogether  according  to   his  own 

it.  But  some  of  Colonel  Cromwell's  forces  coming  by  accident  into 
Uppingham  town,  in  Rutland,  on  the  Lord's  day,  found  these  bears  playing 
there  in  the  usual  manner,  and,  in  the  height  of  their  sport,  caused  them  to 
be  seized  upon,  tied  to  a  tree  and  shot."  This  was  by  no  means  a  solitary 
instance.  Colonel  Pride,  when  Sheriff  of  Surrey,  ordered  the  beasts  in  the 
bear  garden  of  Southwark  to  be  killed.  He  is  represented  by  a  loyal  satirist 
as  defending  the  act  thus  : — "  The  first  thing  that  is  upon  my  spirits  is  the 
killing  of  the  bears,  for  which  the  people  hate  me,  and  call  me  all  the  names 
in  the  rainbow.  But  did  not  David  kill  a  bear  ?  Did  not  the  Lord  Deputy 
Ireton  kill  a  bear?  Did  not  another  lord  of  ours  kill  five  bears  ?  " — Last 
Speech  and  dying  Words  of  Thomas  Pride. 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 23 

inclinations.  Even  under  his  administration  many  magistrates, 
within  their  own  jurisdiction,  made  themselves  as  odious  as 
Sir  Hudibras,  interfered  with  all  the  pleasures  of  the  neigh- 
bourhood, dispersed  festive  meetings,  and  put  fiddlers  in  the 
stocks.  Still  more  formidable  was  the  zeal  of  the  soldiers.  In 
every  village  where  they  appeared  there  was  an  end  of  dancing, 
bellringing,  and  hockey.  In  London  they  several  times 
interrupted  theatrical  performances  at  which  the  Protector  had 
the  judgment  and  good  nature  to  connive. 

With  the  fear  and  hatred  inspired  by  such  a  tyranny 
contempt  was  largely  mingled.  The  peculiarities  of  the 
Puritan,  his  look,  his  dress,  his  dialect,  his  strange  scruples, 
had  been,  ever  since  the  time  of  Elizabeth,  favourite  subjects 
with  mockers.  But  these  peculiarities  appeared  far  more 
grotesque  in  a  faction  which  ruled  a  great  empire  than  in 
obscure  and  persecuted  congregations.  The  cant  which  had 
moved  laughter  when  it  was  heard  on  the  stage  from  Tribula- 
tion Wholesome,  and  Zeal  of-the- Land  Busy,  was  still  more 
laughable  when  it  proceeded  from  the  lips  of  Generals  and 
Councillors  of  state.  It  is  also  to  be  noted  that  during  the 
civil  troubles  several  sects  had  sprung  into  existence,  whose 
eccentricities  surpassed  anything  that  had  before  been  seen 
in  England.  A  mad  tailor,  named  Lodowick  Muggleton, 
wandered  from  pothouse  to  pothouse,  tippUng  ale,  and 
denouncing  eternal  torments  against  those  who  refused  to 
believe,  on  his  testimony,  that  the  Supreme  Being  was  only 
six  feet  high,  and  that  the  sun  was  just  four  miles  from  the 
earth.*  George  Fox  had  raised  a  tempest  of  derision  by 
proclaiming  that  it  was  a  violation  of  Christian  sincerity  to 
designate  a  single  person  by  a  plural  pronoun,  and  that  it  was 
an  idolatrous  homage  to  Janus  and  Woden  to  talk  about 
January  and  Wednesday.  His  doctrine,  a  few  years  later,  was 
embraced  by  some  eminent  men,  and  rose  greatly  in  the 
public  estimation.  But  at  the  time  of  the  Restoration  the 
Quakers  were  popularly  regarded  as  the  most  despicable  of 
fanatics.  By  the  Puritans  they  were  treated  with  severity 
here,  and  were  persecuted  to  the  death  in  New  England. 
Nevertheless  the  public,  which  seldom  makes  nice  distinctions, 
often  confounded  the  Puritan  with  the  Quaker.  Both  were 
schismatics.  Both  hated  episcopacy  and  the  Liturgy.  Both 
had  what  seemed  extravagant  whimsies  about  dress,  diversions, 
and  postures.     Widely  as   the  two  differed  in  opinion,  they 

*  See  Penn's  New  Witnesses  proved  Old  Heretics,  and  Muggleton's 
works,  passim. 


were  popularly  classed  together  as  canting  schismatics  ;  and 
whatever  was  ridiculous  or  odious  in  either  increased  the 
scorn  and  aversion  which  the  multitude  felt  for  both. 

Before  the  civil  wars,  even  those  who  most  disliked  the 
opinions  and  manners  of  the  Puritan  were  forced  to  admit 
that  his  moral  conduct  was  generally,  in  essentials,  blameless ; 
but  this  praise  was  now  no  longer  bestowed,  and,  unfortunately, 
was  no  longer  deserved.  The  general  fate  of  sects  is  to 
obtain  a  high  reputation  for  sanctity  while  they  are  oppressed, 
and  to  lose  it  as  soon  as  they  become  powerful :  and  the 
reason  is  obvious.  It  is  seldom  that  a  man  inrolls  himself  in 
a  proscribed  body  from  any  but  conscientious  motives.  Such 
a  body,  therefore,  is  composed,  with  scarcely  an  exception,  of 
sincere  persons.  The  most  rigid  discipline  that  can  be 
enforced  within  a  religious  society  is  a  very  feeble  instrument 
of  purification,  when  compared  with  a  little  sharp  persecution 
from  without.  We  may  be  certain  that  very  few  persons,  not 
seriously  impressed  by  religious  convictions,  applied  for  baptism 
while  Diocletian  was  vexing  the  Church,  or  joined  themselves 
to  Protestant  congregations  at  the  risk  of  being  burned  by 
Bonner.  But,  when  a  sect  becomes  powerful,  when  its  favour 
is  the  road  to  riches  and  dignities,  worldly  and  ambitious 
men  crowd  into  it,  talk  its  language,  conform  strictly  to  its 
ritual,  mimic  its  peculiarities,  and  frequently  go  beyond  its 
honest  members  in  all  the  outward  indications  of  zeal.  No 
discernment,  no  watchfulness,  on  the  part  of  ecclesiastical 
rulers,  can  prevent  the  intrusion  of  such  false  brethren.  The 
tares  and  the  wheat  must  grow  together.  Soon  the  world 
begins  to  find  out  that  the  godly  are  not  better  than  other 
men,  and  argues,  with  some  justice,  that,  if  not  better,  they 
must  be  much  worse.  In  no  long  time  all  those  signs  which 
were  formerly  regarded  as  characteristic  of  a  saint  are  regarded 
as  characteristic  of  a  knave. 

Thus  it  was  with  the  English  Nonconformists.  They  had 
been  oppressed ;  and  oppression  had  kept  them  a  pure  body. 
They  then  became  supreme  in  the  state.  No  man  could  hope 
to  rise  to  eminence  and  command  but  by  their  favour.  Their 
favour  was  to  be  gained  only  by  exchanging  with  them  the 
signs  and  passwords  of  spiritual  fraternity.  One  of  the  first 
resolutions  adopted  by  Barebone's  Parliament,  the  most 
intensely  Puritanical  of  all  our  political  assemblies,  was  that 
no  person  should  be  admitted  into  the  public  service  till  the 
House  should  be  satisfied  of  his  real  godliness.  What  were  then 
considered  as  the  signs  of  real  godliness,  the  sad  coloured 


dress,  the  sour  look,  the  straight  hair,  the  nasal  whine,  the 
speech  interspersed  with  quaint  texts,  the  abhorrence  of 
comedies,  cards,  and  hawking,  were  easily  counterfeited  by 
men  to  whom  all  religions  were  the  same.  The  sincere 
Puritans  soon  found  themselves  lost  in  a  multitude,  not  merely 
of  men  of  the  world,  but  of  the  very  worst  sort  of  men  of  the 
world.  For  the  most  notorious  libertine  who  had  fought 
under  the  royal  standard  might  justly  be  thought  virtuous 
when  compared  with  some  of  those  who,  while  they  talked 
about  sweet  experiences  and  comfortable  scriptures,  lived  in 
the  constant  practice  of  fraud,  rapacity,  and  secret  debauchery. 
The  people,  with  a  rashness  which  we  may  justly  regret,  but 
at  which  we  cannot  wonder,  formed  their  estimate  of  the  whole 
body  from  these  hypocrites.  The  theology,  the  manners,  the 
dialect  of  the  Puritan  were  thus  associated  in  the  public  mind 
with  the  darkest  and  meanest  vices.  As  soon  as  the  Restora- 
tion had  made  it  safe  to  avow  enmity  to  the  party  which  had 
so  long  been  predominant  in  the  state,  a  general  outcry 
against  Puritanism  rose  from  every  corner  of  the  kingdom,  and 
was  often  swollen  by  the  voices  of  those  very  dissemblers 
whose  villany  had  brought  disgrace  on  the  Puritan  name. 

Thus  the  two  great  parties,  which,  after  a  long  contest,  had 
for  a  moment  concurred  in  restoring  monarchy,  were,  both  in 
politics  and  in  religion,  again  opposed  to  each  other.  The 
great  body  of  the  nation  leaned  to  the  Royalists.  The  crimes 
of  Strafford  and  Laud,  the  excesses  of  the  Star  Chamber  and 
of  the  High  Commission,  the  great  services  which  the  Long 
Parliament  had,  during  the  first  year  of  its  existence,  rendered 
to  the  state,  had  faded  from  the  minds  of  men.  The  execution 
of  Charles  the  First,  the  sullen  tyranny  of  the  Rump,  the 
violence  of  the  army,  were  remembered  with  loathing  ;  and  the 
multitude  was  inclined  to  hold  all  who  had  withstood  the  late 
King  responsible  for  his  death  and  for  the  subsequent  disasters. 

The  House  of  Commons,  having  been  elected  while  the 
Presbyterians  were  dominant,  by  no  means  represented  the 
general  sense  of  the  people,  and,  while  execrating  Cromwell 
and  Bradshaw,  reverenced  the  memory  of  Essex  and  of  Pym. 
One  member  who  ventured  to  declare  that  all  who  had  drawn 
the  sword  against  Charles  the  First  were  as  much  traitors  as 
those  who  cut  ofi  his  head,  was  called  to  order,  placed  at  the 
bar,  and  reprimanded  by  the  Speaker.  The  general  wish  of  the 
House  undoubtedly  was  to  settle  the  ecclesiastical  disputes  in  a 
manner  satisfactory  to  the  moderate  Puritans.  But  to  such  a 
settlement  both  the  court  and  the  nation  were  averse. 


The  restored  King  was  at  this  time  more  loved  by  the  people 
than  any  of  his  predecessors  had  ever  been.  The  calamities  of 
his  house,  the  heroic  death  of  his  father,  his  own  long  suffer- 
ings and  romantic  adventures,  made  him  an  object  of  tender 
interest.  His  return  had  delivered  the  country  from  an 
intolerable  bondage.  Recalled  by  the  voice  of  both  the 
contending  factions,  he  was  in  a  position  which  enabled  him  to 
arbitrate  between  them  ;  and  in  some  respects  he  was  well 
qualified  for  the  task.  He  had  received  from  nature  excellent 
parts  and  a  happy  temper.  His  education  had  been  such  as 
might  have  been  expected  to  develope  his  understanding,  and 
to  form  him  to  the  practice  of  every  public  and  private  virtue. 
He  had  passed  through  all  varieties  of  fortune,  and  had  seen 
both  sides  of  human  nature.  He  had,  while  very  young,  been 
driven  forth  from  a  palace  to  a  Hfe  of  exile,  penury,  and  danger. 
He  had,  at  the  age  when  the  mind  and  body  are  in  their 
highest  perfection,  and  when  the  first  effervescence  of  boyish 
passions  should  have  subsided,  been  recalled  from  his  wander- 
ings to  wear  a  crown.  He  had  been  taught  by  bitter  experience 
how  much  baseness,  perfidy,  and  ingratitude  may  lie  hid  under 
the  obsequious  demeanour  of  courtiers.  He  had  found,  on 
the  other  hand,  in  the  huts  of  the  poorest,  true  nobility  of  soul. 
When  wealth  was  offered  to  any  who  would  betray  him,  when 
death  was  denounced  against  all  who  should  shelter  him, 
cottagers  and  serving  men  had  kept  his  secret  truly,  and  had 
kissed  his  hand  under  his  mean  disguises  with  as  much 
reverence  as  if  he  had  been  seated  on  his  ancestral  throne. 
From  such  a  school  it  might  have  been  expected  that  a  young 
man  who  wanted  neither  abilities  nor  amiable  qualities  would 
have  come  forth  a  great  and  good  King.  Charles  came  forth 
from  that  school  with  social  habits,  Avith  polite  and  engaging 
manners,  and  with  some  talent  for  lively  conversation,  addicted 
beyond  measure  to  sensual  indulgence,  fond  of  sauntering  and 
of  frivolous  amusements,  incapable  of  selfdenial  and  of  exertion, 
without  faith  in  human  virtue  or  in  human  attachment,  without 
desire  of  renown,  and  without  sensibiUty  to  reproach.  Accord- 
ing to  him,  every  person  was  to  be  bought :  but  some  people 
haggled  more  about  their  price  than  others ;  and  when  this 
haggling  was  very  obstinate  and  very  skilful  it  was  called  by 
some  fine  name.  The  chief  trick  by  which  clever  men  kept  up 
the  price  of  their  abilities  was  called  integrity.  The  chief  trick 
by  which  handsome  women  kept  up  the  price  of  their  beauty 
was  called  modesty.  The  love  of  God,  the  love  of  country, 
the  love  of  family,  the  love  of  friends,  were  phrases  of  the  same 

THE    REIGN     OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 27 

sort,  delicate  and  convenient  synonymes  for  the  love  of  self. 
Thinking  thus  of  mankind,  Charles  naturally  cared  very  little 
what  they  thought  of  him.  Honour  and  shame  were  scarcely 
more  to  him  than  light  and  darkness  to  the  blind.  His 
contempt  of  flattery  has  been  highly  commended,  but  seems, 
when  viewed  in  connection  with  the  rest  of  his  character,  to 
deserve  no  commendation.  It  is  possible  to  be  below  flattery 
as  well  as  above  it.  One  who  trusts  nobody  will  not  trust 
sycophants.  One  who  does  not  value  real  glory  will  not  value 
its  counterfeit. 

It  is  creditable  to  Charles's  temper  that,  ill  as  be  thought  of 
his  species,  he  never  became  a  misanthrope.  He  saw  little  in 
men  but  what  was  hateful.  Yet  he  did  not  hate  them.  Nay, 
he  was  so  far  humane  that  it  was  highly  disagreeable  to  him  to 
see  their  sufferings  or  to  hear  their  complaints.  This  however 
is  a  sort  of  humanity  which,  though  amiable  and  laudable  in  a 
private  man  whose  power  to  help  or  hurt  is  bounded  by  a 
narrow  circle,  has  in  princes  often  been  rather  a  vice  than 
a  virtue.  More  than  one  well  disposed  ruler  has  given  up 
whole  provinces  to  rapine  and  oppression,  merely  from  a  wish 
to  see  none  but  happy  faces  round  his  own  board  and  in  his 
own  walks.  No  man  is  fit  to  govern  great  societies  who  hesitates 
about  disobliging  the  few  who  have  access  to  him  for  the  sake 
of  the  many  whom  he  will  never  see.  The  facility  of  Charles 
was  such  as  has  perhaps  never  been  found  in  any  man  of  equal 
sense.  He  was  a  slave  without  being  a  dupe.  Worthless  men 
and  women  to  the  very  bottom  of  whose  hearts  he  saw,  and 
whom  he  knew  to  be  destitute  of  affection  for  him  and  un- 
deserving of  his  confidence,  could  easily  wheedle  him  out  of 
titles,  places,  domains,  state  secrets  and  pardons.  He  bestowed 
much ;  yet  he  neither  enjoyed  the  pleasure  nor  acquired  the 
fame  of  beneficence.  He  never  gave  spontaneously  ;  but  it  was 
painful  to  him  to  refuse.  The  consequence  was  that  his  bounty 
generally  went,  not  to  those  who  deserved  it  best,  nor  even  to 
those  whom  he  liked  best,  but  to  the  most  shameless  and 
importunate  suitor  who  could  obtain  an  audience. 

The  motives  which  governed  the  political  conduct  of  Charles 
the  Second  differed  widely  from  those  by  which  his  predecessor 
and  his  successor  were  actuated.  He  was  not  a  man  to  be 
imposed  upon  by  the  patriarchal  theory  of  government  and  the 
doctrine  of  divine  right.  He  was  utterly  mthout  ambition. 
He  detested  business,  and  would  sooner  have  abdicated  his 
crown  than  have  undergone  the  trouble  of  really  directing  the 
administration.     Such  was  his  aversion  to  toil,  and  such  his 



ignorance  of  affairs,  that  the  very  clerks  who  attended  him 
when  he  sate  in  council  could  not  refrain  from  sneering  at  his 
frivolous  remarks,   and  at   his   childish   impatience.     Neither 
gratitude  nor  revenge  had  any  share  in  determining  his  course  ; 
for  never  was  there  a  mind  on  which  both  services  and  injuries 
left  such  faint  and  transitory  impressions.     He  wished  merely 
to  be  a  King  such  as  Lewis  the  Fifteenth  of  France  afterwards 
was ;  a  King  who  could  draw  without  limit  on  the  treasury  for 
the  gratification  of  his  private  tastes,  who  could  hire  with  wealth 
and  honours  persons  capable  of  assisting  him  to  kill  the  time, 
and  who,  even  when  the  state  was  brought  by  maladministration 
to  the  depths  of  humiliation  and  to  the  brink  of  ruin,  could 
still  exclude  unwelcome  truth  from  the  purlieus  of  his  own 
seraglio,  and  refuse  to  see  and  hear  whatever  might  disturb  his 
luxurious  repose.     For  these  ends,  and  for  these  ends  alone, 
he  wished  to  obtain  arbitrary  power,  if  it  could  be  obtained 
without  risk  or  trouble.    In  the  religious  disputes  which  divided 
his  Protestant  subjects  his  conscience  was  not  at  all  interested. 
For  his  opinions  oscillated  in  a  state  of  contented  suspense 
between  infidelity  and  Popery.     But,  though  his  conscience 
was  neutral  in  the  quarrel  between  the  Episcopalians  and  the 
Presbyterians,  his  taste  was  by  no  means  so.     His  favourite 
vices  were  precisely  those  to  which  the   Puritans  were  least 
indulgent.     He  could  not  get  through  one    day  without  the 
help  of  diversions  which  the  Puritans  regarded  as  sinful.     As 
a   man    eminently   well    bred,    and    keenly   sensible    of    the 
ridiculous,  he  was  moved  to  contemptuous  mirth  by  the  Puritan 
oddities.     He  had  indeed  some  reason  to  dislike  the  rigid  sect. 
He  had,  at  the  age  when  the  passions  are  most  impetuous  and 
when  levity  is  most  pardonable,  spent  some  months  in  Scotland, 
a  King  in  name,  but  in  fact  a  state  prisoner  in  the  hands  of 
austere   Presbyterians.     Not   content  with   requiring   him   to 
conform   to  their  worship   and   to  subscribe  their   Covenant, 
they  had  watched  all  his  motions,  and  lectured  him  on  all  his 
youthful  follies.     He   had   been  compelled  to  give  reluctant 
attendance  at  endless  prayers  and  sermons,  and  might  think 
himself  fortunate  when  he  was  not  insolently  reminded  from 
the  pulpit  of  his  own  frailties,  of  his  father's  tyranny,  and  of  his 
mother's  idolatry.     Indeed  he  had  been  so  miserable  during 
this  part  of  his  life  that  the  defeat  which  made  him  again  a 
wanderer  might  be  regarded  as  a  deliverance  rather  than  as 
a  calamity.     Under   the   influence  of  such   feelings  as  these 
Charles  was  desirous  to  depress  the  party  which  had  resisted 
his  father. 

THE    REIGN     OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 29 

The  King's  brother,  James  Duke  of  York,  took  the  same 
side.  Though  a  libertine,  James  was  diligent,  methodical, 
and  fond  of  authority  and  business.  His  understanding  was 
singularly  slow  and  narrow,  and  his  temper  obstinate,  harsh, 
and  unforgiving.  That  such  a  prince  should  have  looked  with 
no  good  will  on  the  free  institutions  of  England,  and  on  the 
party  which  was  peculiarly  zealous  for  those  institutions,  can 
excite  no  surprise.  As  yet  the  Duke  professed  himself  a 
member  of  the  Anglican  Church :  but  he  had  already  shown 
inclinations  which  had  seriously  alarmed  good  Protestants. 

The  person  on  whom  devolved  at  this  time  the  greatest  part 
of  the  labour  of  governing  was  Edward  Hyde,  Chancellor  of 
the  realm,  who  was  soon  created  Earl  of  Clarendon,  The 
respect  which  we  justly  feel  for  Clarendon  as  a  writer  must  not 
blind  us  to  the  faults  which  he  committed  as  a  statesman. 
Some  of  those  faults,  however,  are  explained  and  excused  by 
the  unfortunate  position  in  which  he  stood.  He  had,  during 
the  first  year  of  the  Long  Parliament,  been  honourably 
distinguished  among  the  senators  who  laboured  to  redress  the 
grievances  of  the  nation.  One  of  the  most  odious  of  those 
grievances,  the  Council  of  York,  had  been  removed  in  conse- 
quence chiefly  of  his  exertions.  When  the  great  schism  took 
place,  when  the  reforming  party  and  the  conservative  party 
first  appeared  marshalled  against  each  other,  he  with  many 
wise  and  good  men  took  the  conservative  side.  He  thence- 
forward followed  the  fortunes  of  the  court,  enjoyed  as  large  a 
share  of  the  confidence  of  Charles  the  First  as  the  reserved 
nature  and  tortuous  policy  of  that  prince  allowed  to  any 
minister,  and  subsequently  shared  the  exile  and  directed  the 
political  conduct  of  Charles  the  Second.  At  the  Restoration 
Hyde  became  chief  minister.  In  a  few  months  it  was 
announced  that  he  was  closely  related  by  affinity  to  the  royal 
house.  His  daughter  had  become,  by  a  secret  marriage, 
Duchess  of  York,  His  grandchildren  might  perhaps  wear  the 
crown.  He  was  raised  by  this  illustrious  connection  over  the 
heads  of  the  old  nobility  of  the  land,  and  was  for  a  time 
supposed  to  be  all  powerful.  In  some  respects  he  was  well 
fitted  for  his  great  place.  No  man  wrote  abler  state  papers. 
No  man  spoke  with  more  weight  and  dignity  in  Council  and 
in  Parliament.  No  man  was  better  acquainted  with  general 
maxims  of  statecraft.  No  man  observed  the  varieties  of 
character  with  a  more  discriminating  eye.  It  must  be  added 
that  he  had  a  strong  sense  of  moral  and  religious  obligation,  a 
sincere  reverence  for  the  laws  of  his  country,  and  a  conscienti- 


ous  regard  for  the  honour  and  interest  of  the  crown.  But  his 
temper  was  sour,  arrogant,  and  impatient  of  opposition. 
Above  all,  he  had  been  long  an  exile ;  and  this  circumstance 
alone  would  have  completely  disqualified  him  for  the  supreme 
direction  of  affairs.  It  is  scarcely  possible  that  a  politician,  who 
has  been  compelled  by  civil  troubles  to  go  into  banishment,  and 
to  pass  many  of  the  best  years  of  his  life  abroad,  can  be  fit,  on 
the  day  on  which  he  returns  to  his  native  land,  to  be  at  the  head 
of  the  government.  Clarendon  was  no  exception  to  this  rule. 
He  had  left  England  with  a  mind  heated  by  a  fierce  conflict 
which  had  ended  in  the  dow-nfall  of  his  party  and  of  his  own 
fortunes.  From  1646  to  1660  he  had  lived  beyond  sea, 
looking  on  all  that  passed  at  home  from  a  great  distance,  and 
through  a  false  medium.  His  notions  of  public  affairs  were 
necessarily  derived  from  the  reports  of  plotters,  many  of  whom 
were  ruined  and  desperate  men.  Events  naturally  seemed  to 
him  auspicious,  not  in  proportion  as  they  increased  the 
prosperity  and  glory  of  the  nation,  but  in  proportion  as  they 
tended  to  hasten  the  hour  of  his  own  return.  His  wish,  a  wish 
which  he  has  not  disguised,  was  that,  till  his  countrymen  brought 
back  the  old  line,  they  might  never  enjoy  quiet  or  freedom. 
At  length  he  returned ;  and,  without  having  a  single  week  to 
look  about  him,  to  mix  with  society,  to  note  the  changes  which 
fourteen  eventful  years  had  produced  in  the  national  character 
and  feelings,  he  was  at  once  set  to  rule  the  state.  In  such  cir- 
cumstances, a  minister  of  the  greatest  tact  and  docility  would 
probably  have  fallen  into  serious  errors.  But  tact  and  docility 
made  no  part  of  the  character  of  Clarendon.  To  him 
England  was  still  the  England  of  his  youth ;  and  he  sternly 
frowned  down  every  theory  and  every  practice  which  had 
sprung  up  during  his  own  exile.  Though  he  was  far  from 
meditating  any  attack  on  the  ancient  and  undoubted  power  of 
the  House  of  Commons,  he  saw  with  extreme  uneasiness  the 
growth  of  that  power.  The  royal  prerogative,  for  which  he 
had  long  suffered,  and  by  which  he  had  at  length  been  raised 
to  wealth  and  dignity,  was  sacred  in  his  eyes.  The  Round- 
heads he  regarded  both  with  political  and  with  personal 
aversion.  To  the  Anglican  Church  he  had  always  been 
strongly  attached,  and  had  repeatedly,  where  her  interests 
were  concerned,  separated  himself  with  regret  from  his 
dearest  friends.  His  zeal  for  Episcopacy  and  for  the  Book 
of  Common  Prayer  was  now  more  ardent  than  ever,  and  was 
mingled  with  a  vindictive  hatred  of  the  Puritans,  which  did 
him  little  honour  either  as  a  statesman  or  as  a  Christian. 


While  the  House  of  Commons  which  had  recalled  the  royal 
family  was  sitting,  it  was  impossible  to  effect  the  reestablishment 
of  the  old  ecclesiastical  system.  Not  only  were  the  intentions 
of  the  court  strictly  concealed,  but  assurances  which  quieted 
the  minds  of  the  moderate  Presbyterians  were  given  by  the 
King  in  the  most  solemn  manner.  He  had  promised,  before 
his  restoration,  that  he  would  grant  liberty  of  conscience  to  his 
subjects.  He  now  repeated  that  promise,  and  added  a  promise 
to  use  his  best  endeavours  for  the  purpose  of  effecting  a 
compromise  between  the  contending  sects.  He  wished,  he 
said,  to  see  the  spiritual  jurisdiction  divided  between  bishops 
and  synods.  The  Liturgy  should  be  revised  by  a  body  of 
learned  divines,  one  half  of  whom  should  be  Presbyterians. 
The  questions  respecting  the  surplice,  the  posture  at  the 
Eucharist,  and  the  sign  of  the  cross  in  baptism,  should  be  settled 
in  a  way  which  would  set  tender  consciences  at  ease.  When 
the  King  had  thus  laid  asleep  the  vigilance  of  those  whom  he 
most  feared,  he  dissolved  the  Parliament.  He  had  already 
given  his  assent  to  an  act  by  which  an  amnesty  was  granted, 
with  few  exceptions,  to  all  who,  during  the  late  troubles,  had 
been  guilty  of  political  offences.  He  had  also  obtained  from 
the  Commons  a  grant  for  life  of  taxes,  the  annual  produce  of 
which  was  estimated  at  twelve  hundred  thousand  pounds.  The 
actual  income,  indeed,  during  some  years,  amounted  to  little 
more  than  a  million  :  but  this  sum,  together  with  the  hereditary 
revenue  of  the  crown,  was  then  sufficient  to  defray  the  expenses 
of  the  government  in  time  of  peace.  Nothing  was  allowed  for 
a  standing  army.  The  nation  was  sick  of  the  very  name  ;  and 
the  least  mention  of  such  a  force  would  have  incensed  and 
alarmed  all  parties. 

Early  in  1661  took  place  a  general  election.  The  people 
were  mad  with  loyal  enthusiasm.  The  capital  was  excited  by 
preparations  for  the  most  splendid  coronation  that  had  ever 
been  known.  The  result  was  that  a  body  of  representatives 
was  returned,  such  as  England  had  never  yet  seen.  A  large 
proportion  of  the  successful  candidates  were  men  who  had 
fought  for  the  crown  and  the  Church,  and  whose  minds  had 
been  exasperated  by  many  injuries  and  insults  suffered  at  the 
hands  of  the  Roundheads.  When  the  members  met,  the 
passions  which  animated  each  individually  acquired  new 
strength  from  sympathy.  The  House  of  Commons  was,  during 
some  years,  more  zealous  for  royalty  than  the  King,  more 
zealous  for  episcopacy  than  the  Bishops.  Charles  and 
Clarendon  were  almost  terrified  at  the  completeness  of  their 


own  success.  They  found  themselves  in  a  situation  not 
unlike  that  in  which  Lewis  the  Eighteenth  and  the  Duke  of 
Richelieu  were  placed  while  the  Chamber  of  18 15  was  sitting. 
Even  if  the  King  had  been  desirous  to  fulfil  the  promises 
which  he  had  made  to  the  Presbyterians,  it  would  have  been 
out  of  his  power  to  do  so.  It  was  indeed  only  by  the  strong 
exertion  of  his  influence  that  he  could  prevent  the  victorious 
Cavaliers  from  rescinding  the  act  of  indemnity,  and  retaliating 
without  mercy  all  that  they  had  suffered. 

The  Commons  began  by  resolving  that  every  member  should, 
on  pain  of  expulsion,  take  the  sacrament  according  to  the  form 
prescribed  by  the  old  Liturgy,  and  that  the  Covenant  should 
be  burned  by  the  hangman  in  Palace  Yard.  An  act  was  passed, 
which  not  only  acknowledged  the  power  of  the  sword  to  be 
solely  in  the  King,  but  declared  that  in  no  extremity  whatever 
could  the  two  Houses  be  justified  in  withstanding  him  by 
force.  Another  act  was  passed  which  required  every  officer 
of  a  corporation  to  swear  that  he  held  resistance  to  the  King's 
authority  to  be  in  all  cases  unlawful.  A  few  hotheaded  men 
wished  to  bring  in  a  bill,  which  should  at  once  annul  all  the 
statutes  passed  by  the  Long  Parliament,  and  should  restore  the 
Star  Chamber  and  the  High  Commission;  but  the  reaction, 
violent  as  it  was,  did  not  proceed  quite  to  this  length.  It  still 
continued  to  be  the  law  that  a  Parliament  should  be  held 
every  three  years  :  but  the  stringent  clauses  which  directed  the 
returning  officers  to  proceed  to  election  at  the  proper  time, 
^ven  without  the  royal  writ,  were  repealed.  The  Bishops  were 
restored  to  their  seats  in  the  Upper  House.  The  old  ecclesi- 
astical polity  and  the  old  Liturgy  were  revived  without  any 
modification  which  had  any  tendency  to  conciliate  even  the 
most  reasonable  Presbyterians.  Episcopal  ordination  was  now, 
for  the  first  time,  made  an  indispensable  qualification  for 
church  preferment.  About  two  thousand  ministers  of  religion, 
whose  conscience  did  not  suffer  them  to  conform,  were  driven 
from  their  benefices  in  one  day.  The  dominant  party  exult- 
ingly  reminded  the  sufferers  that  the  Long  Parliament,  when 
at  the  height  of  power,  had  turned  out  a  still  greater  number 
of  Royalist  divines.  The  reproach  was  but  too  well  founded  : 
but  the  Long  Parliament  had  at  least  allowed  to  the  divines 
whom  it  ejected  a  provision  sufficient  to  keep  them  from 
starving ;  and  this  example  the  Cavaliers,  intoxicated  with 
animosity,  had  not  the  justice  and  humanity  to  follow. 

Then  came  penal  statutes  against  Nonconformists,  statutes 
for  which  precedents  might  too  easily  be  found  in  the  Puritan 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 33 

legislation,  but  to  which  the  King  could  not  give  his  assent 
without  a  breach  of  promises  publicly  made,  in  the  most 
important  crisis  of  his  life,  to  those  on  whom  his  fate  depended. 
The  Presbyterians,  in  extreme  distress  and  terror,  fled  to  the 
foot  of  the  throne,  and  pleaded  their  recent  services  and  the 
royal  faith  solemnly  and  repeatedly  plighted.  The  King 
wavered.  He  could  not  deny  his  own  hand  and  seal.  He 
could  not  but  be  conscious  that  he  owed  much  to  the 
petitioners.  He  was  little  in  the  habit  of  resisting  importunate 
solicitation.  His  temper  was  not  that  of  a  persecutor.  He 
disliked  the  Puritans  indeed ;  but  in  him  dislike  was  a  languid 
feehng,  very  little  resembling  the  energetic  hatred  which  had 
burned  in  the  heart  of  Laud.  He  was,  moreover,  partial  to  the 
Roman  Catholic  religion ;  and  he  knew  that  it  would  be 
impossible  to  grant  liberty  of  worship  to  the  professors  of  that 
religion  without  extending  the  same  indulgence  to  Protestant 
dissenters.  He  therefore  made  a  feeble  attempt  to  restrain 
the  intolerant  zeal  of  the  House  of  Commons  ;  but  that  House 
was  under  the  influence  of  far  deeper  convictions,  and  far 
stronger  passions  than  his  own.  After  a  faint  struggle  he 
yielded,  and  passed,  with  the  show  of  alacrity,  a  series  of 
odious  acts  against  the  separatists.  It  was  made  a  crime  to 
attend  a  dissenting  place  of  worship.  A  single  justice  of  the 
peace  might  convict  without  a  jury,  and  might,  for  the  third 
offence,  pass  sentence  for  transportation  beyond  sea  for  seven 
years.  With  refined  cruelty  it  was  provided  that  the  offender 
should  not  be  transported  to  New  England,  where  he  was 
likely  to  find  sympathizing  friends.  If  he  returned  to  his  own 
country  before  the  expiration  of  his  term  of  exile,  he  was  liable 
to  capital  punishment.  A  new  and  most  unreasonable  test  was 
imposed  on  divines  who  had  been  deprived  of  their  benefices 
for  nonconformity  ;  and  all  who  refused  to  take  it  were  pro- 
hibited from  coming  within  five  miles  of  any  town  which  was 
governed  by  a  corporation,  of  any  town  which  was  represented 
in  Parliament,  or  of  any  town  where  they  had  themselves 
resided  as  ministers.  The  magistrates,  by  whom  these  rigorous 
statutes  were  to  be  enforced,  were  in  general  men  inflamed  by 
party  spirit  and  by  the  remembrance  of  wrongs  which  they  had 
themselves  suffered  in  the  time  of  the  Commonwealth.  The 
gaols  were  therefore  soon  crowded  with  dissenters ;  and, 
among  the  sufferers,  were  some  of  whose  genius  and  virtue  any 
Christian  society  might  well  be  proud. 

The  Church    of  England  was  not  ungrateful  for  the  pro- 
tection which  she  received  from  the  government.     From  the 


first  day  of  her  existence,  she  had  been  attached  to  monarchy. 
But,  during  the  quarter  of  a  century  which  followed  the 
Restoration,  her  zeal  for  royal  authority  and  hereditary  right 
passed  all  bounds.  She  had  suffered  with  the  House  of 
Stuart.  She  had  been  restored  with  that  House.  She  was 
connected  with  it  by  common  interests,  friendships,  and 
enmities.  It  seemed  impossible  that  a  day  could  ever  come 
when  the  ties  which  bound  her  to  the  children  of  her  august 
martyr  would  be  sundered,  and  when  the  loyalty  in  which  she 
gloried  would  cease  to  be  a  pleasing  and  profitable  duty.  She 
accordingly  magnified  in  fulsome  phrase  that  prerogative  which 
was  constantly  employed  to  defend  and  to  aggrandise  her,  and 
reprobated,  much  at  her  ease,  the  depravity  of  those  whom 
oppression,  from  which  she  was  exempt,  had  goaded  to  rebellion. 
Her  favourite  theme  was  the  doctrine  of  nonresistance.  That 
doctrine  she  taught  without  any  qualification,  and  followed  out 
to  all  its  extreme  consequences.  Her  disciples  were  never 
weary  of  repeating  that  in  no  conceivable  case,  not  even  if 
England  were  cursed  with  a  King  resembling  Busiris  or 
Phalaris,  who,  in  defiance  of  law,  and  without  the  pretence  of 
justice,  should  daily  doom  hundreds  of  innocent  victims  to 
torture  and  death,  would  all  the  Estates  of  the  realm  united 
be  justified  in  withstanding  his  tyranny  by  physical  force. 
Happily  the  principles  of  human  nature  afford  abundant  secu- 
rity that  such  theories  will  never  be  more  than  theories.  The 
day  of  trial  came  :  and  the  very  men  who  had  most  loudly  and 
most  sincerely  professed  this  extravagant  loyalty  were,  in 
almost  every  county  of  England,  arrayed  in  arms  against  the 

Property  all  over  the  kingdom  was  now  again  changing 
hands.  The  national  sales,  not  having  been  confirmed  by 
Parliament,  were  regarded  by  the  tribunals  as  nuUities.  The 
sovereign,  the  bishops,  the  deans,  the  chapters,  the  royalist 
nobility  and  gentry,  reentered  on  their  confiscated  estates,  and 
ejected  even  purchasers  who  had  given  fair  prices.  The  losses 
which  the  Cavaliers  had  sustained  during  the  ascendency  of 
their  opponents  were  thus  in  part  repaired ;  but  in  part  only. 
All  actions  for  mesne  profits  were  effectually  barred  by  the 
general  amnesty ;  and  the  numerous  Royalists  who,  in  order 
to  discharge  fines  imposed  by  the  Parliament,  or  in  order  to 
purchase  the  favour  of  powerful  Roundheads,  had  sold  lands 
for  much  less  than  the  real  value,  were  not  relieved  from  the 
legal  consequences  of  their  own  acts. 

While  these  changes  were  in  progress,  a  change  still  more 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 35 

important  took  place  in  the  morals  and  manners  of  the  com- 
munity. Those  passions  and  tastes  which,  under  the  rule  of 
the  Puritans,  had  been  sternly  repressed,  and,  if  gratified  at  all, 
had  been  gratified  by  stealth,  broke  forth  with  ungovernable 
violence  as  soon  as  the  check  was  withdrawn.  Men  flew  to 
frivolous  amusements  and  to  criminal  pleasures  with  the 
greediness  which  long  and  enforced  abstinence  naturally 
produces.  Little  restraint  was  imposed  by  public  opinion. 
For  the  nation,  nauseated  with  cant,  suspicious  of  all  pre- 
tensions to  sanctity,  and  still  smarting  from  the  recent 
tyranny  of  rulers  austere  in  life  and  powerful  in  prayer, 
looked  for  a  time  with  complacency  on  the  softer  and  gayer 
vices.  Still  less  restraint  was  imposed  by  the  government. 
Indeed  there  was  no  excess  which  was  not  encouraged  by  the 
ostentatious  profligacy  of  the  king  and  of  his  favourite 
courtiers.  A  few  counsellors  of  Charles  the  First,  who  were 
now  no  longer  young,  retained  the  decorous  gravity  which  had 
been  thirty  years  before  in  fashion  at  Whitehall.  Such  were 
Clarendon  himself,  and  his  friends,  Thomas  Wriothesley,  Earl 
of  Southampton,  Lord  Treasurer,  and  James  Butler,  Duke  of 
Ormond,  who,  having  through  many  vicissitudes  struggled 
gallantly  for  the  royal  cause  in  Ireland,  now  governed  that 
kingdom  as  Lord  Lieutenant.  But  neither  the  memory  of  the 
services  of  these  men,  nor  their  great  power  in  the  state,  could 
protect  them  from  the  sarcasms  which  modish  vice  loves  to 
dart  at  obsolete  virtue.  The  praise  of  politeness  and  vivacity 
could  now  scarcely  be  obtained  except  by  some  violation  of 
decorum.  Talents  great  and  various  assisted  to  spread  the 
contagion.  Ethical  philosophy  had  recently  taken  a  form  well 
suited  to  please  a  generation  equally  devoted  to  monarchy 
and  to  vice.  Thomas  Hobes  had,  in  language  more  precise 
and  luminous  than  has  ever  been  employed  by  any  other 
metaphysical  writer,  maintained  that  the  will  of  the  prince  was 
the  standard  of  right  and  wrong,  and  that  every  subject  ought 
to  be  ready  to  profess  Popery,  Mahometanism,  or  Paganism  at 
the  royal  command.  Thousands  who  were  incompetent  to 
appreciate  what  was  really  valuable  in  his  speculations,  eagerly 
welcomed  a  theory  which,  while  it  exalted  the  kingly  office, 
relaxed  the  obligations  of  morality,  and  degraded  religion  into 
a  mere  affair  of  state.  Hobbisra  soon  became  an  almost 
essential  part  of  the  character  of  the  fine  gentleman.  All  the 
hghter  kinds  of  literature  were  deeply  tainted  by  the  prevailing 
licentiousness.  Poetry  stooped  to  be  the  pandar  of  every  low 
desire.     Ridicule,  instead  of  putting   guilt  and  error   to  the 


blush,  turned  her  formidable  shafts  against  innocence  and 
truth.  The  restored  Church  contended  indeed  against  the 
prevailing  immorality,  but  contended  feebly,  and  with  half  a 
heart.  It  was  necessary  to  the  decorum  of  her  character  that 
she  should  admonish  her  erring  children.  But  her  admonitions 
were  given  in  a  somewhat  perfunctory  manner.  Her  attention 
was  elsewhere  engaged.  Her  whole  soul  was  in  the  work  of 
crushing  the  Puritans,  and  of  teaching  her  disciples  to  give 
unto  Csesar  the  things  which  were  Caesar's.  She  had  been 
pillaged  and  oppressed  by  the  party  which  preached  an  austere 
morality.  She  had  been  restored  to  opulence  and  honour  by 
libertines.  Little  as  the  men  of  mirth  and  fashion  were 
disposed  to  shape  their  lives  according  to  her  precepts,  they 
were  yet  ready  to  fight  knee  deep  in  blood  for  her  cathedrals 
and  palaces,  for  every  line  of  her  rubric  and  every  thread  of  her 
vestments.  If  the  debauched  Cavalier  haunted  brothels  and 
gambling  houses,  he  at  least  avoided  conventicles.  If  he  never 
spoke  without  uttering  ribaldry  and  blasphemy,  he  made  some 
amends  by  his  eagerness  to  send  Baxter  and  Howe  to  gaol  for 
preaching  and  praying.  Thus  the  clergy,  for  a  time,  made  war 
on  schism  with  so  much  vigour  that  they  had  little  leisure  to 
make  war  on  vice.  The  ribaldry  of  Etherege  and  Wycherley 
W£LS,  in  the  presence  and  under  the  special  sanction  of  the 
head  of  the  Church,  publicly  recited  by  female  lips  in  female 
ears,  while  the  author  of  the  Pilgrim's  Progress  languished  in  a 
dungeon  for  the  crime  of  proclaiming  the  gospel  to  the  poor. 
It  is  an  unquestionable  and  a  most  instructive  fact  that  the 
years  during  which  the  political  power  of  the  Anglican 
heirarchy  was  in  the  zenith  were  precisely  the  years  during 
which  national  virtue  was  at  the  lowest  point. 

Scarcely  any  rank  or  profession  escaped  the  infection  of  the 
prevailing  immorahty;  but  those  persons  who  made  politics 
their  business  were  perhaps  the  most  corrupt  part  of  the 
corrupt  society.  For  they  were  exposed  not  only  to  the  same 
noxious  influences  which  affected  the  nation  generally,  but  also 
to  a  taint  of  a  peculiar  and  of  a  most  malignant  kind.  Their 
character  had  been  formed  amidst  frequent  and  violent  revolu- 
tions and  counterrevolutions.  In  the  course  of  a  few  years 
they  had  seen  the  ecclesiastical  and  civil  polity  of  their  country 
repeatedly  changed.  They  had  seen  an  Episcopal  Church 
persecuting  Puritans,  a  Puritan  Church  persecuting  Episcopa- 
lians, and  an  Episcopal  Church  persecuting  Puritans  again. 
They  had  seen  hereditary  monarchy  abolished  and  restored. 
They  had  seen  the  Long  Parliament  thrice  supreme  in  the 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  I  37 

state  and  thrice  dissolved  amidst  the  curses  and  laughter  of 
millions.  They  had  seen  a  new  dynasty  rapidly  rising  to  the 
height  of  power  and  glory,  and  then  on  a  sudden  hurled  down 
from  the  chair  of  state  without  a  struggle.  They  had  seen 
a  new  representative  system  devised,  tried,  and  abandoned. 
They  had  seen  a  new  House  of  Lords  created  and  scattered. 
They  had  seen  great  masses  of  property  violently  transferred 
from  Cavaliers  to  Roundheads,  and  from  Roundheads  back  to 
Cavaliers.  During  these  events  no  man  could  be  a  stirring  and 
thriving  politician  who  was  not  prepared  to  change  with  every 
change  of  fortune.  It  was  only  in  retirement  that  any  person 
could  long  keep  the  character  either  of  a  steady  Royalist  or  of 
a  steady  Republican.  One  who,  in  such  an  age,  is  determined 
to  attain  civil  greatness  must  renounce  all  thought  of  con- 
sistency. Instead  of  affecting  immutability  in  the  midst  of 
endless  mutation,  he  must  be  always  on  the  watch  for  the  indi- 
cations of  a  coming  reaction.  He  must  seize  the  exact  moment 
for  deserting  a  falling  cause.  Having  gone  all  lengths  with  a 
faction  while  it  was  uppermost,  he  must  suddenly  extricate 
himself  from  it  when  its  difificulties  begin,  must  assail  it,  must 
persecute  it,  must  enter  on  anew  career  of  power  and  prosperity 
in  company  with  new  associates.  His  situation  naturally 
developes  in  him  to  the  highest  degree  a  peculiar  class  of 
abilities  and  a  peculiar  class  of  vices.  He  becomes  quick  of 
observation  and  fertile  of  resource.  He  catches  without  effort 
the  tone  of  any  sect  or  party  with  which  he  chances  to  mingle. 
He  discerns  the  signs  of  the  times  with  a  sagacity  which  to  the 
multitude  appears  miraculous,  with  a  sagacity  resembling  that 
with  which  a  veteran  police  officer  pursues  the  faintest  indica- 
tions of  crime,  or  with  which  a  Mohawk  warrior  follows  a  track 
through  the  woods.  But  we  shall  seldom  find  in  a  statesman  so 
trained,  integrity,  constancy,  any  of  the  virtues  of  the  noble 
family  of  Truth.  He  has  no  faith  in  any  doctrine,  no  zeal  for 
any  cause.  He  has  seen  so  many  old  institutions  swept  away, 
that  he  has  no  reverence  for  prescription.  He  has  seen  so 
many  new  institutions  from  which  much  had  been  expected 
produce  rnere  disappointment,  that  he  has  no  hope  of  improve- 
ment. He  sneers  alike  at  those  who  are  anxious  to  preserve  and 
at  those  who  are  eager  to  reform.  There  is  nothing  in  the 
state  which  he  could  not,  without  a  scruple  or  a  blush,  join  in 
defending  or  in  destroying.  Fidelity  to  opinions  and  to  friends 
seems  to  him  mere  dulness  and  wrongheadedness.  Politics  he 
regards,  not  as  a  science  of  which  the  object  is  the  happiness 
of  mankind,  but  as  an  exciting  game  of  mixed  chance  and 


skill,  at  which  a  dexterous  and  lucky  player  may  win  an  estate, 
a  coronet,  perhaps  a  crown,  and  at  which  one  rash  move  may 
lead  to  the  loss  of  fortune  and  of  life.  Ambition,  which,  in 
good  times,  and  in  good  minds,  is  half  a  virtue,  now,  disjoined 
from  every  elevated  and  philanthropic  sentiment,  becomes  a 
selfish  cupidity  scarcely  less  ignoble  than  avarice.  Among  those 
politicians  who,  from  the  Restoration  to  the  accession  of  the 
House  of  Hanover,  were  at  the  head  of  the  great  parties  in  the 
state,  very  few  can  be  named  whose  reputation  is  not  stained 
by  what,  in  our  age,  would  be  called  gross  perfidy  and  cor- 
ruption. It  is  scarcely  an  exaggeration  to  say  that  the  most 
unprincipled  public  men  who  have  taken  part  in  affairs  within 
our  memory  would,  if  tried  by  the  standard  which  was  in 
fashion  during  the  latter  part  of  the  seventeenth  century, 
deserve  to  be  regarded  as  scrupulous  and  disinterested. 

While  these  political,  religious,  and  moral  changes  were 
taking  place  in  England,  the  royal  authority  had  been  without 
difficulty  reestablished  in  every  other  part  of  the  British  islands. 
In  Scotland  the  restoration  of  the  Stuarts  had  been  hailed 
with  delight ;  for  it  was  regarded  as  the  restoration  of  national 
independence.  And  true  it  was  that  the  yoke  which  Cromwell 
had  imposed  was,  in  appearance,  taken  away,  that  the  Estates 
again  met  in  their  old  hall  at  Edinburgh,  and  that  the  Senators 
of  the  College  of  Justice  again  administered  the  Scottish  law 
according  to  the  old  forms.  Yet  was  the  independence  of  the 
little  kingdom  necessarily  rather  nominal  than  real :  for,  as 
long  as  the  King  had  England  on  his  side,  he  had  nothing  to 
apprehend  from  disaffection  in  his  other  dominions.  He  was 
now  in  such  a  situation  that  he  could  renew  the  attempt  which 
had  proved  destructive  to  his  father  without  any  danger  of  his 
father's  fate.  Charles  the  First  had  tried  to  force  his  own 
religion  by  his  regal  power  on  the  Scots  at  a  moment  when 
both  his  religion  and  his  regal  power  were  unpopular  in 
England ;  and  he  had  not  only  failed,  but  had  raised  troubles 
which  had  ultimately  cost  him  his  crown  and  his  head.  Times 
had  now  changed  :  England  was  zealous  for  monarchy  and 
prelacy;  and  therefore  the  scheme  which  in  the  .preceding 
generation  had  been  in  the  highest  degree  imprudent  might  be 
resumed  with  little  risk  to  the  throne.  The  government 
resolved  to  set  up  a  prelatical  church  in  Scotland.  The  design 
was  disapproved  by  every  Scotchman  whose  judgment  was 
entitled  to  respect.  Some  Scottish  statesmen  who  were  zealous 
for  the  king's  prerogative  had  been  bred  Presbyterians. 
Though  httle  troubled  with  scruples,  they  retained  a  preference 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  I  39 

for  the  religion  of  their  childhood ;  and  they  well  knew  how 
strong  a  hold  that  religion  had  on  the  hearts  of  their  country- 
men. They  remonstrated  strongly  :  but,  when  they  found  that 
they  remonstrated  in  vain,  they  had  not  virtue  enough  to 
persist  in  an  opposition  which  would  have  given  offence  to 
their  master ;  and  several  of  them  stooped  to  the  wickedness 
and  baseness  of  persecuting  what  in  their  consciences  they 
believed  to  be  the  purest  form  of  Christianity.  The  Scottish 
Parliament  was  so  constituted  that  it  had  scarcely  ever  offered 
any  serious  opposition  even  to  Kings  much  weaker  than  Charles 
then  was.  Episcopacy,  therefore,  was  established  by  law.  As 
to  the  form  of  worship,  a  large  discretion  was  left  to  the  clergy. 
In  some  churches  the  English  Liturgy  was  used.  In  others, 
the  ministers  selected  from  that  Liturgy  such  prayers  and 
thanksgivings  as  were  likely  to  be  least  offensive  to  the  people. 
But  in  general  the  doxology  was  sung  at  the  close  of  public 
worship,  and  the  Apostles'  Creed  was  recited  when  baptism 
was  administered.  By  the  great  body  of  the  Scottish  nation 
the  new  Church  was  detested  both  as  superstitious  and  as 
foreign ;  as  tainted  with  the  corruptions  of  Rome,  and  as  a 
mark  of  the  predominance  of  England.  There  was,  however, 
no  general  insurrection.  The  country  was  not  what  it  had 
been  twenty-two  years  before.  Disastrous  war  and  alien 
domination  had  tamed  the  spirit  of  the  people.  The 
aristocracy,  which  was  held  in  great  honour  by  the  middle 
class  and  by  the  populace,  had  put  itself  at  the  head  of  the 
movement  against  Charles  the  First,  but  proved  obsequious  to 
Charles  the  Second.  From  the  English  Puritans  no  aid  was 
now  to  be  expected.  They  were  a  feeble  party,  proscribed 
both  by  law  and  by  public  opinion.  The  bulk  of  the  Scottish 
nation,  therefore,  sullenly  submitted,  and,  with  many  misgivings 
of  conscience,  attended  the  ministrations  of  the  Episcopal 
clergy,  or  of  Presbyterian  divines  who  had  consented  to  accept 
from  the  government  a  half  toleration,  known  by  the  name  of 
the  Indulgence.  But  there  were,  particularly  in  the  western 
lowlands,  many  fierce  and  resolute  men,  who  held  that  the 
obligation  to  observe  the  Covenant  was  paramount  to  the 
obligation  to  obey  the  magistrate.  These  people,  in  defiance 
of  the  law,  persisted  in  meeting  to  worship  God  after  their  own 
fashion.  The  Indulgence  they  regarded,  not  as  a  partial 
reparation  of  the  wrongs  inflicted  by  the  magistrate  on  the 
Church,  but  as  a  new  wrong,  the  more  odious  because  it  was 
disguised  under  the  appearance  of  a  benefit.  Persecution, 
they  said,  could  only  kill  the  body ;  but  the  black  Indulgence 


was  deadly  to  the  soul.  Driven  from  the  towns  they  assembled 
on  heaths  and  mountains.  Attacked  by  the  civil  power,  they 
without  scruple  repelled  force  by  force.  At  every  conventicle 
they  mustered  in  arms.  They  repeatedly  broke  out  into  open 
rebellion.  They  were  easily  defeated,  and  mercilessly  punished  : 
but  neither  defeat  nor  punishment  could  subdue  their  spirit. 
Hunted  down  like  wild  beasts,  tortured  till  their  bones  were 
beaten  flat,  imprisoned  by  hundreds,  hanged  by  scores,  exposed 
at  one  time  to  the  license  of  soldiers  from  England,  abandoned 
at  another  time  to  the  mercy  of  bands  of  marauders  from  the 
Highlands,  they  still  stood  at  bay  in  a  mood  so  savage  that  the 
boldest  and  mightiest  oppressor  could  not  but  dread  the 
audacity  of  their  despair. 

Such  was,  during  the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second,  the  state 
of  Scotland.  Ireland  was  not  less  distracted.  In  that  island 
existed  feuds,  compared  with  which  the  hottest  animosities  of 
English  politicians  were  lukewarm.  The  enmity  between  the 
Irish  Cavaliers  and  the  Irish  Roundheads  were  almost  forgotten 
in  the  fiercer  enmity  which  raged  between  the  English  and 
the  Celtic  races.  The  interval  between  the  Episcopalian  and 
the  Presbyterian  seemed  to  vanish,  when  compared  with  the 
interval  which  separated  both  from  the  Papist.  During  the 
late  civil  troubles  the  greater  part  of  the  Irish  soil  had  been 
transferred  from  the  vanquished  nation  to  the  victors.  To 
the  favour  of  the  crown  few  either  of  the  old  or  of  the  new 
occupants  had  any  pretensions.  The  despoilers  and  the 
despoiled  had,  for  the  most  part,  been  rebels  alike.  The 
government  was  soon  perplexed  and  wearied  by  the  conflicting 
claims  and  mutual  accusations  of  the  two  incensed  factions. 
Those  colonists  among  whom  Cromwell  had  portioned  out 
the  conquered  territory,  and  whose  descendants  are  still  called 
CromweUians,  represented  that  the  aboriginal  inhabitants  were 
deadly  enemies  of  the  English  nation  under  every  dynasty,  and 
of  the  Protestant  religion  in  every  form.  They  described  and 
exaggerated  the  atrocities  which  had  disgraced  the  insurrection 
of  Ulster :  they  urged  the  King  to  follow  up  with  resolution 
the  policy  of  the  Protector;  and  they  were  not  ashamed  to 
hint  that  there  would  never  be  peace  in  Ireland  till  the  old 
Irish  race  should  be  extirpated.  The  Roman  Catholics 
extenuated  their  offence  as  they  best  might,  and  expatiated  in 
piteous  language  on  the  severity  of  their  punishment,  which, 
in  truth,  had  not  been  lenient.  They  implored  Charles  not 
to  confound  the  innocent  with  the  guilty,  and  reminded  him 
that  many  of  the  guilty  had  atoned  for  their  fault  by  returning 


to  their  allegiance,  and  by  defending  his  rights  against  the 
murderers  of  his  father.  The  court,  sick  of  the  importunities 
of  two  parties,  neither  of  which  it  had  any  reason  to  love,  at 
length  relieved  itself  from  trouble  by  dictating  a  compromise. 
That  cruel,  but  most  complete  and  energetic  system,  by  which 
Oliver  had  proposed  to  make  the  island  thoroughly  English, 
was  abandoned.  The  Cromwellians  were  induced  to  relinquish 
a  third  part  of  their  acquisitions.  The  land  thus  surrendered 
was  capriciously  divided  among  claimants  whom  the  govern- 
ment chose  to  favour.  But  great  numbers  who  protested  that 
they  were  innocent  of  all  disloyalty,  and  some  persons  who 
boasted  that  their  loyalty  had  been  signally  displayed,  obtained 
neither  restitution  nor  compensation,  and  filled  France  and 
Spain  with  outcries  against  the  injustice  and  ingratitude  of 
the  House  of  Stuart. 

Meantime  the  government  had,  even  in  England,  ceased 
to  be  popular.  The  Royalists  had  begun  to  quarrel  with  the 
court  and  with  each  other;  and  the  party  which  had  been 
vanquished,  trampled  down,  and,  as  it  seemed,  annihilated, 
but  which  had  still  retained  a  strong  principle  of  life,  again 
raised  its  head,  and  renewed  the  interminable  war. 

Had  the  administration  been  faultless,  the  enthusiasm  with 
which  the  return  of  the  King  and  the  termination  of  the 
military  tyranny  had  been  hailed  could  not  have  been  per- 
manent. For  it  is  the  law  of  our  nature  that  such  fits  of 
excitement  shall  always  be  followed  by  remissions.  The 
manner  in  which  the  court  abused  its  victory  made  the  remis- 
sion speedy  and  complete.  Every  moderate  man  was  shocked 
by  the  insolence,  cruelty  and  perfidy  with  which  the  Noncon- 
formists were  treated.  The  penal  laws  had  effectually  purged 
the  oppressed  party  of  those  insincere  members  whose  vices 
had  disgraced  it,  and  had  made  it  again  an  honest  and  pious 
body  of  men.  The  Puritan,  a  conqueror,  a  ruler,  a  persecutor, 
a  sequestrator,  had  been  detested.  The  Puritan,  betrayed  and 
evil  intreated,  deserted  by  all  the  timeservers  who,  in  his 
prosperity,  had  claimed  brotherhood  with  him,  hunted  from 
his  home,  forbidden  under  severe  penalties  to  pray  or  receive 
the  sacrament  according  to  his  conscience,  yet  still  firm  in  his 
resolution  to  obey  God  rather  than  man,  was,  in  spite  of  some 
unpleasing  recollections,  an  object  of  pity  and  respect  to  well 
constituted  minds.  These  feelings  became  stronger  when  it 
was  noised  abroad  that  the  court  was  not  disposed  to  treat 
Papists  with  the  same  rigour  which  had  been  shown  to 
Presbyterians.     A   vague   suspicion   that   the    King   and   the 


Duke  were  not  sincere  Protestants  sprang  up  in  many  quarters. 
Many  persons  too  who  had  been  disgusted  by  the  austerity 
and  hypocrisy  of  the  Pharisees  of  the  Commonwealth  began 
to  be  still  more  disgusted  by  the  open  profligacy  of  the  court 
and  of  the  Cavaliers,  and  were  disposed  to  doubt  whether  the 
sullen  preciseness  of  Praise  God  Barebone  might  not  be 
preferable  to  the  outrageous  profaneness  and  licentiousness 
of  the  Buckinghams  and  Sedleys.  Even  immoral  men,  who 
were  not  utterly  destitute  of  sense  and  public  spirit,  complained 
that  the  government  treated  the  most  serious  matters  as  trifles, 
and  made  trifles  its  serious  business.  A  King  might  be. 
pardoned  for  amusing  his  leisure  with  wine,  wit,  and  beauty. 
But  it  was  intolerable  that  he  should  sink  into  a  mere 
saunterer  and  voluptuary,  that  the  gravest  affairs  of  state  should 
be  neglected,  and  that  the  public  service  should  be  starved 
and  the  finances  deranged  in  order  that  harlots  and  parasites 
might  grow  rich. 

A  large  body  of  Royalists  joined  in  these  complaints,  and 
added  many  sharp  reflections  on  the  King's  ingratitude.  His 
whole  revenue,  indeed,  would  not  have  suflSced  to  reward 
them  all  in  proportion  to  their  own  consciousness  of  desert. 
For  to  every  distressed  gentleman  who  had  fought  under 
Rupert  or  Derby  his  own  services  seemed  eminently  merito- 
rious, and  his  own  sufferings  eminently  severe.  Every  one 
had  flattered  himself  that,  whatever  became  of  the  rest,  he 
should  be  largely  recompensed  for  all  that  he  had  lost  during 
the  civil  troubles,  and  that  the  restoration  of  the  monarchy 
would  be  followed  by  the  restoration  of  his  own  dilapidated 
fortunes.  None  of  these  expectants  could  restrain  his  indigna- 
tion, when  he  found  that  he  was  as  poor  under  the  King  as  he 
had  been  under  the  Rump  or  the  Protector.  The  negligence 
and  extravagance  of  the  court  excited  the  bitter  indignation  of 
these  loyal  veterans.  They  justly  said  that  one  half  of  what 
His  Majesty  squandered  on  concubines  and  buffoons  would 
gladden  the  hearts  of  hundreds  of  old  Cavaliers  who,  after 
cutting  down  their  oaks  and  melting  their  plate  to  help  his 
father,  now  wandered  about  in  threadbare  suits,  and  did  not 
know  where  to  turn  for  a  meal. 

At  the  same  time  a  sudden  fall  of  rents  took  place.  The 
income  of  every  landed  proprietor  was  diminished  by  five 
shillings  in  the  pound.  The  cry  of  agricultural  distress  rose 
from  every  shire  in  the  kingdom ;  and  for  that  distress  the 
government  was,  as  usual,  held  accountable.  The  gentry, 
compelled  to  retrench  their  expenses  for  a  period,  saw  with 


indignation  the  increasing  splendour  and  profusion  of  White- 
hall, and  were  immovably  fixed  in  the  belief  that  the  money 
which  ought  to  have  supported  their  households  had,  by  some 
inexplicable  process,  gone  to  the  favourites  of  the  king. 

The  minds  of  men  were  now  in  such  a  temper  that  every 
public  act  excited  discontent.  Charles  had  taken  to  wife 
Catharine  Princess  of  Portugal.  The  marriage  was  generally 
disliked  ;  and  the  murmurs  became  loud  when  it  appeared 
that  the  King  was  not  likely  to  have  any  legitimate  posterity. 
Dunkirk,  won  by  Oliver  from  Spam,  was  sold  to  Lewis  the 
Fourteenth,  King  of  France.  This  bargain  excited  general 
indignation.  Englishmen  were  already  beginning  to  observe 
with  uneasiness  the  progress  of  the  French  power,  and  to 
regard  the  House  of  Bourbon  with  the  same  feeling  with 
which  their  grandfathers  had  regarded  the  House  of  Austria. 
Was  it  wise,  men  asked,  at  such  a  time,  to  make  any  addition 
to  the  strength  of  a  monarchy  already  too  formidable  ?  Dun- 
kirk was,  moreover,  prized  by  the  people,  not  merely  as  a 
place  of  arms,  and  as  a  key  to  the  Low  Countries,  but  also  as 
a  trophy  of  English  valour.  It  was  to  the  subjects  of  Charles 
what  Calais  had  been  to  an  earUer  generation,  and  what  the 
rock  of  Gibraltar,  so  manfully  defended,  through  disastrous 
and  perilous  years,  against  the  fleets  and  armies  of  a  mighty 
coalition,  is  to  ourselves.  The  plea  of  economy  migiit  have 
had  some  weight,  if  it  had  been  urged  by  an  economical 
government.  But  it  was  notorious  that  the  charges  of  Dunkirk 
fell  far  short  of  the  sums  which  were  wasted  at  court  in  vice 
and  folly.  It  seemed  insupportable  that  a  sovereign,  profuse 
beyond  example  in  all  that  regarded  his  own  pleasures,  should 
be  niggardly  in  all  that  regarded  the  safety  and  honour  of  the 

The  public  discontent  was  heightened,  when  it  was  found 
that,  while  Dunkirk  was  abandoned  on  the  plea  of  economy, 
the  fortress  of  Tangier,  which  was  part  of  the  dower  of  Queen 
Catharine,  was  repaired  and  kept  up  at  an  enormous  charge. 
That  place  was  associated  with  no  recollections  gratifying  to 
the  national  pride  :  it  could  in  no  way  promote  the  national 
interests  :  it  involved  us  in  inglorious,  unprofitable,  and  inter- 
minable wars  with  tribes  of  half  savage  Mussulmans  ;  and  it 
was  situated  in  a  climate  singularly  unfavourable  to  the  health 
and  vigour  of  the  English  race. 

But  the  murmurs  excited  by  these  errors  were  faint,  when 
compared  with  the  clamours  which  soon  broke  forth.  The 
government  engaged  in  war  with  the  United  Provinces.     The 


House  of  Commons  readily  voted  sums  unexampled  in  our 
history,  sums  exceeding  those  which  had  supported  the  fleets 
and  armies  of  Cromwell  at  the  time  when  his  power  was  the 
terror  of  all  the  world.  But  such  was  the  extravagance,  dis- 
honesty, and  incapacity  of  those  who  had  succeeded  to  his 
authority,  that  this  liberality  proved  worse  than  useless.  The 
sycophants  of  the  court,  ill  qualified  to  contend  against  the 
great  men  who  then  directed  the  arms  of  Holland,  against 
such  a  statesman  as  De  Witt,  and  such  a  commander  as  De 
Ruyter,  made  fortunes  rapidly,  while  the  sailors  mutinied  from 
very  hunger,  while  the  dockyards  were  unguarded,  while  the 
ships  were  leaky  and  without  rigging.  It  was  at  length 
determined  to  abandon  all  schemes  of  offensive  war;  and  it 
soon  appeared  that  even  a  defensive  war  was  a  task  too  hard 
for  that  administration.  The  Dutch  fleet  sailed  up  the 
Thames,  and  burned  the  ships  of  war  which  lay  at  Chatham. 
It  was  said  that,  on  the  very  day  of  that  great  humiliation, 
the  King  feasted  with  the  ladies  of  his  seraglio,  and  amused 
himself  with  hunting  a  moth  about  the  supper  room.  Then, 
at  length,  tardy  justice  was  done  to  the  memory  of  Oliver. 
Everywhere  men  magnified  his  valour,  genius,  and  patriotism. 
Everywhere  it  was  remembered  how,  when  he  ruled,  all  foreign 
powers  had  trembled  at  the  name  of  England,  how  the  States 
General,  now  so  haughty,  had  crouched  at  his  feet,  and  how, 
when  it  was  known  that  he  was  no  more,  Amsterdam  was 
lighted  up  as  for  a  great  deliverance,  and  children  ran  along 
the  canals,  shouting  for  joy  that  the  devil  was  dead.  Even 
Royalists  exclaimed  that  the  State  could  be  saved  only  by 
calling  the  old  soldiers  of  the  Commonwealth  to  arms.  Soon 
the  capital  began  to  feel  the  miseries  of  a  blockade.  Fuel  was 
scarcely  to  be  procured  Tilbury  Fort,  the  place  where  Eliza- 
beth had,  Avith  manly  spirit,  hurled  foul  scorn  at  Parma  and 
Spain,  was  insulted  by  the  invaders.  The  roar  of  foreign  guns 
was  heard,  for  the  first  and  last  time,  by  the  citizens  of 
London.  In  the  Council  it  was  seriously  proposed  that,  if 
the  enemy  advanced,  the  Tower  should  be  abandoned.  Great 
multitudes  of  people  assembled  in  the  streets  crying  out  that 
England  was  bought  and  sold.  The  houses  and  carriages  of 
the  ministers  were  attacked  by  the  populace;  and  it  seemed 
likely  that  the  government  would  have  to  deal  at  once  with 
an  invasion  and  with  an  insurrection.  The  extreme  danger, 
it  is  true,  soon  passed  by.  A  treaty  was  concluded,  very 
different  from  the  treaties  which  Oliver  had  been  in  the  habit 
of  signing ;  and  the  nation  was  once  more  at  peace,  but  was 


in  a  mood  scarcely  less  fierce  and  sullen  than  in  the  days  of 

The  discontent  engendered  by  maladministration  was 
heightened  by  calamities  which  the  best  administration  could 
not  have  averted.  While  the  ignominious  war  with  Holland 
was  raging,  London  suffered  two  great  disasters,  such  as  never, 
in  so  short  a  space  of  time,  befell  one  city.  A  pestilence, 
surpassing  in  horror  any  that  during  three  centuries  had 
visited  the  island,  swept  away,  in  six  months,  more  than  a 
hundred  thousand  human  beings.  And  scarcely  had  the 
dead  cart  ceased  to  go  its  rounds,  when  a  fire,  such  as  had 
not  been  known  in  Europe  since  the  conflagration  of  Rome 
under  Nero,  laid  in  ruins  the  whole  City,  from  the  Tower  to 
the  Temple,  and  from  the  river  to  the  purlieus  of  Smithfield. 

Had  there  been  a  general  election  while  the  nation  was 
smarting  under  so  many  disgraces  and  misfortunes,  it  is  pro- 
bable that  the  Roundheads  would  have  regained  ascendency  in 
the  state.  But  the  Parliament  was  still  the  Cavalier  Parliament, 
chosen  in  the  transport  of  loyalty  which  had  followed  the 
Restoration.  Nevertheless  it  soon  became  evident  that  no 
English  legislature,  however  loyal,  would  now  consent  to  be 
merely  what  the  legislature  had  been  under  the  Tudors.  From 
the  death  of  Elizabeth  to  the  eve  of  the  civil  war,  the  Puritans, 
who  predominated  in  the  representative  body,  had  been 
constantly,  by  a  dexterous  use  of  the  power  of  the  purse, 
encroaching  on  the  province  of  the  executive  government. 
The  gentlemen  who,  after  the  Restoration,  filled  the  Lov/er 
House,  though  they  abhorred  the  Puritan  name,  were  well 
pleased  to  inherit  the  fruit  of  the  Puritan  policy.  They  were 
indeed  most  willing  to  employ  the  power  which  they  possessed 
in  the  state  for  the  purpose  of  making  their  King  mighty  and 
honoured,  both  at  home  and  abroad  :  but  with  the  power  itself 
they  were  resolved  not  to  part.  The  great  English  revolution 
of  the  seventeenth  century,  that  is  to  say,  the  transfer  of  the 
supreme  control  of  the  executive  administration  from  the  cro^^^l 
to  the  House  of  Commons,  was  through  the  whole  long  exist- 
ence of  this  Parliament,  proceeding  noiselessly,  but  rapidly  and 
steadily.  Charles,  kept  poor  by  his  follies  and  vices,  wanted 
money.  The  Commons  alone  could  legally  grant  him  money. 
They  could  not  be  prevented  from  putting  their  own  price  on 
their  grants.  The  price  which  they  put  on  their  grants  was 
this,  that  they  should  be  allowed  to  interfere  with  every  one  of 
the  King's  prerogatives,  to  wring  from  him  his  consent  to  laws 
which  he  disliked,  to  break  up  cabinets,  to  dictate  the  course 


of  foreign  policy,  and  even  to  direct  the  administration  of  war. 
To  the  royal  office  and  the  royal  person,  they  loudly  and  sin- 
cerely professed  the  strongest  attachment.  But  to  Clarendon 
they  owed  no  allegiance  ;  and  they  fell  on  him  as  furiously  as 
their  predecessors  had  fallen  on  Strafford.  The  minister's 
virtues  and  vices  alike  contributed  to  his  ruin.  He  was  the 
ostensible  head  of  the  administration,  and  was  therefore  held 
responsible  even  for  those  acts  which  he  had  strongly,  but 
vainly,  opposed  in  Council.  He  was  regarded  by  the  Puritans 
and  by  all  who  pitied  them,  as  an  implacable  bigot,  a  second 
Laud,  with  much  more  than  Laud's  understanding.  He  had 
on  all  occasions  maintained  that  the  Act  of  Indemnity  ought 
to  be  strictly  observed ;  and  this  part  of  his  conduct,  though 
highly  honourable  to  him,  made  him  hateful  to  all  those  Royal- 
ists who  wished  to  repair  their  ruined  fortunes  by  suing  the 
Roundheads  for  damages  and  mesne  profits.  The  Presbyte- 
rians of  Scotland  attributed  to  him  the  downfall  of  their  Church. 
The  Papists  of  Ireland  attributed  to  him  the  loss  of  their  lands. 
As  father  of  the  Duchess  of  York,  he  had  an  obvious  motive 
for  wishing  that  there  might  be  a  barren  Queen  ;  and  he  was 
therefore  suspected  of  having  purposely  recommended  one. 
The  sale  of  Dunkirk  was  justly  imputed  to  him.  For  the  war 
with  Holland  he  was,  with  less  justice,  held  accountable.  His 
hot  temper,  his  arrogant  deportment,  the  indelicate  eagerness 
with  which  he  grasped  at  riches,  the  ostentation  with  which  he 
squandered  them,  his  picture  gallery,  filled  with  masterpieces 
of  Vandyke  which  had  once  been  the  property  of  ruined 
Cavaliers,  his  palace,  which  reared  its  long  and  stately  front 
right  opposite  to  the  humbler  residence  of  our  Kings,  drew  on 
him  much  deserved,  and  some  undeserved,  censure.  When 
the  Dutch  fleet  was  in  the  Thames,  it  was  against  the  Chan- 
cellor that  the  rage  of  the  populace  was  chiefly  directed.  His 
windows  were  broken  ;  the  trees  of  his  garden  were  cut  down ; 
and  a  gibbet  was  set  up  before  his  door.  But  nowhere  was  he 
more  detested  than  in  the  House  of  Commons.  He  was 
unable  to  perceive  that  the  time  was  fast  approaching  when 
that  House,  if  it  continued  to  exist  at  all,  must  be  supreme  in 
the  state,  when  the  management  of  that  House  would  be  the 
most  important  department  of  politics,  and  when,  without  the 
help  of  men  possessing  the  ear  of  that  House,  it  would  be 
impossible  to  carry  on  the  government.  He  obstinately  per- 
sisted in  considering  the  Parliament  as  a  body  in  no  respect 
differing  from  the  Parliament  which  had  been  sitting  when, 
forty  years  before,  he  first  began  to  study  law  at  the  Temple. 


He  did  not  wish  to  deprive  the  legislature  of  those  powers 
which  were  inherent  in  it  by  the  old  constitution  of  the  realm  : 
biit  the  new  development  of  those  powers,  though  a  develop- 
ment natural,  inevitable,  and  to  be  prevented  only  by  utterly 
destroying  the  powers  themselves,  disgusted  and  alarmed  him. 
Nothing  would  have  induced  him  to  put  the  great  seal  to 
a  writ  for  raising  shipmoney,  or  to  give  his  voice  in  Council 
for  committing  a  member  of  Parliament  to  the  Tower,  on 
account  of  words  spoken  in  debate  :  but,  when  the  Commons 
began  to  inquire  in  what  manner  the  money  voted  for  the 
war  had  been  wasted,  and  to  examine  into  the  maladminis- 
tration of  the  navy,  he  flamed  with  indignation.  Such  inquiry, 
according  to  him,  was  out  of  their  province.  He  admitted  that 
the  House  was  a  most  loyal  assembly,  that  it  had  done  good 
service  to  the  crown,  and  that  its  intentions  were  excellent. 
But,  both  in  public  and  in  the  closet,  he,  on  every  occasion, 
expressed  his  concern  that  gentlemen  so  sincerely  attached  to 
monarchy  should  unadvisedly  incroach  on  the  prerogative  of 
the  monarch.  Widely  as  they  differed  in  spirit  from  the 
members  of  the  Long  Parliament,  they  yet,  he  said,  imitated 
that  Parliament  in  meddling  with  matters  which  lay  beyond 
the  sphere  of  the  Estates  of  the  realm,  and  which  were  subject 
to  the  authority  of  the  crown  alone.  The  country,  he  main- 
tained, would  never  be  well  governed  till  the  knights  of  shires 
and  the  burgesses  were  content  to  be  what  their  predecessors 
had  been  in  the  days  of  Elizabeth.  All  the  plans  which  men 
more  observant  than  himself  of  the  signs  of  that  time  proposed, 
for  the  purpose  of  maintaining  a  good  understanding  between 
the  Court  and  the  Commons,  he  disdainfully  rejected  as  crude 
projects,  inconsistent  with  the  old  polity  of  England.  Towards 
the  young  orators,  who  were  rising  to  distinction  and  authority 
in  the  Lower  House,  his  deportment  was  ungracious ;  and  he 
succeeded  in  making  them,  with  scarcely  an  exception,  his 
deadly  enemies.  Indeed  one  of  his  most  serious  faults  was  an 
inordinate  contempt  for  youth  :  and  this  contempt  was  the 
more  unjustifiable,  because  his  own  experience  in  English 
politics  was  by  no  means  proportioned  to  his  age.  For  so 
great  a  part  of  his  life  had  been  passed  abroad  that  he  knew 
less  of  that  world  in  which  he  found  himself  on  his  return  than 
many  who  might  have  been  his  sons. 

For  these  reasons  he  was  disliked  by  the  Commons.  For 
very  different  reasons  he  was  equally  disliked  by  the  Court. 
His  morals  as  well  as  his  politics  were  those  of  an  earlier 
generation.     Even  when  he  was  a  young  law  student,   living 


much  with  men  of  wit  and  pleasure,  his  natural  gravity  and  his 
religious  principles  had  to  a  great  extent  preserved  him  from 
the  contagion  of  fashionable  debauchery ;  and  he  was  by  no 
means  likely,  in  advanced  years  and  in  declining  health,  to  turn 
libertine.  On  the  vices  of  the  young  and  gay  he  looked  with 
an  aversion  almost  as  bitter  and  contemptuous  as  that  which 
he  felt  for  the  theological  erorrs  of  the  sectaries.  He  missed 
no  opportunity  of  showing  his  scorn  of  the  mimics,  revellers, 
and  courtesans  who  crowded  the  palace  ;  and  the  admonitions 
which  he  addressed  to  the  King  himself  were  very  sharp,  and, 
what  Charles  disliked  still  more,  very  long.  Scarcely  any 
voice  was  raised  in  favour  of  a  minister  loaded  with  the 
double  odium  of  faults  which  roused  the  fury  of  the  people, 
and  of  virtues  which  annoyed  and  importuned  the  sovereign. 
Southampton  was  no  more.  Ormond  performed  the  duties  of 
friendship  manfully  and  faithfully,  but  in  vain.  The  Chancellor 
fell  with  a  great  ruin.  The  seal  was  taken  from  him  :  the 
Commons  impeached  him  :  his  head  was  not  safe :  he  fled 
from  the  country :  an  act  was  passed  which  doomed  him  to 
perpetual  exile  ;  and  those  who  had  assailed  and  undermined 
him  began  to  struggle  for  the  fragments  of  his  power. 

The  sacrifice  of  Clarendon  in  some  degree  took  off  the  edge 
of  the  public  appetite  for  revenge.  Yet  was  the  anger  excited 
by  the  profusion  and  negligence  of  the  government,  and  by  the 
miscarriages  of  the  late  war,  by  no  means  extinguished.  The 
counsellors  of  Charles,  with  the  fate  of  the  Chancellor  before 
their  eyes,  were  anxious  for  their  own  safety.  They  accord- 
ingly advised  their  master  to  soothe  the  irritation  which  pre- 
vailed both  in  the  Parliament  and  throughout  the  country,  and 
for  that  end,  to  take  a  step  which  has  no  parallel  in  the  history 
of  the  House  of  Stuart,  and  which  was  worthy  of  the  prudence 
and  magnanimity  of  Oliver. 

We  have  now  reached  a  point  at  which  the  history  of  the 
great  English  revolution  begins  to  be  complicated  with  the 
history  of  foreign  politics.  The  power  of  Spain  had,  during 
many  years,  been  declining.  She  still,  it  is  true,  held  in 
Europe  the  Milanese  and  the  two  Sicilies,  Belgium,  and 
Franche  Comte.  In  America  her  dominions  still  spread,  on 
both  sides  of  the  equator,  far  beyond  the  limits  of  the  torrid 
zone.  But  this  great  body  had  been  smitten  with  palsy,  and 
was  not  only  incapable  of  giving  molestation  to  other  states, 
but  could  not,  without  assistance,  repel  aggression.  France 
was  now,  beyond  all  doubt,  the  greatest  power  in  Europe. 
Her    resources   have,  since  those  days,  absolutely  increased, 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 49 

but  have  not  increased  so  fast  as  the  resources  of  England. 
It  must  also  be  remembered  that,  a  hundred  and  eighty  years 
ago,  the  Empire  of  Russia,  now  a  monarchy  of  the  first  class,  was 
as  entirely  out  of  the  system  of  European  politics  as  Abys- 
sinia or  Siam,  that  the  House  of  Brandenburg  was  then  hardly 
more  powerful  than  the  House  of  Saxony,  and  that  the  republic 
of  the  United  States  had  not  then  begun  to  exist.  The 
weight  of  France,  therefore,  though  still  very  considerable, 
has  relatively  diminished.  Her  territory  was  not  in  the  days 
of  Lewis  the  Fourteenth  quite  so  extensive  as  at  present  : 
but  it  was  large,  compact,  fertile,  well  placed  both  for  attack 
and  for  defence,  situated  in  a  happy  climate,  and  inhabited 
by  a  brave,  active,  and  ingenious  people.  The  state  impli- 
citly obeyed  the  direction  of  a  single  mind.  The  great  fiefs 
which,  three  hundred  years  before,  had  been,  in  all  but  name, 
independent  principahties,  had  been  annexed  to  the  crown. 
Only  a  few  old  men  could  remember  the  last  meeting  of 
the  States  General.  The  resistance  which  the  Huguenots, 
the  nobles,  and  the  parliaments  had  offered  to  the  kingly 
power,  had  been  put  down  by  the  two  great  Cardinals  who 
had  ruled  the  nation  during  forty  years.  The  government 
was  now  a  despotism,  but,  at  least  in  its  dealings  with  the 
upper  classes,  a  mild  and  generous  despotism,  tempered  by 
courteous  manners  and  chivalrous  sentiments.  The  means  at 
the  disposal  of  the  sovereign  were,  for  that  age,  truly  for- 
midable. His  revenue,  raised,  it  is  true,  by  a  severe  and  . 
unequal  taxation  which  pressed  heavily  on  the  cultivators  of 
the  soil,  far  exceeded  that  of  any  other  potentate.  His  army, 
excellently  disciplined,  and  commanded  by  the  greatest  gen- 
erals then  living,  already  consisted  of  more  than  a  hundred 
and  twenty  thousand  men.  Such  an  array  of  regular  troops 
had  not  been  seen  in  Europe  since  the  downfall  of  the 
Roman  empire.  Of  maritime  powers  France  was  not  the  first. 
But,  though  she  had  rivals  on  the  sea,  she  had  not  yet  a 
superior.  Such  was  her  strength  during  the  last  forty  years 
of  the  seventeenth  century,  that  no  enemy  could  singly  with- 
stand her,  and  that  two  great  coalitions,  in  which  half 
Christendom  was  united  against  her,  failed  of  success. 

The  personal  qualities  of  the  French  King  added  to  the 
respect  inspired  by  the  power  and  importance  of  his  kingdom. 
No  sovereign  has  ever  represented  the  majesty  of  a  great  state 
with  more  dignity  and  grace.  He  was  his  own  prime  minister, 
and  performed  the  duties  of  that  arduous  situation  with  an 
ability  and  an  industry  which  could  not  be  reasonably  expected 


from  one  who  had  m  infancy  succeeded  to  a  crown,  and  who 
had  been  surrounded  by  flatterers  before  he  could  speak.  He 
had  shown,  in  an  eminent  degree,  two  talents  invaluable  to  a 
prince,  the  talent  of  choosing  his  servants  well,  and  the  talent 
of  appropriating  to  himself  the  chief  part  of  the  credit  of  their 
acts.  In  his  dealings  with  foreign  powers  he  had  some 
generosity,  but  no  justice.  To  unhappy  allies  who  threw 
themselves  at  his  feet,  and  had  no  hope  but  in  his  compassion, 
he  extended  his  protection  with  a  romantic  disinterestedness, 
which  seemed  better  suited  to  a  knight  errant  than  to  a  states- 
man. But  he  broke  through  the  most  sacred  ties  of  public 
faith  without  scruple  or  shame,  whenever  they  interfered  with 
his  interest,  or  with  what  he  called  his  glory.  His  perfidy  and 
violence,  however,  excited  less  enmity  than  the  insolence  with 
which  he  constantly  reminded  his  neighbours  of  his  own  great- 
ness and  of  their  littleness.  He  did  not  at  this  time  profess 
the  austere  devotion  which,  at  a  later  period,  gave  to  his  court 
the  aspect  of  a  monastery.  On  the  contrary,  he  was  as 
licentious,  though  by  no  means  as  frivolous  and  indolent,  as  his 
brother  of  England.  But  he  was  a  sincere  Roman  Catholic ; 
and  both  his  conscience  and  his  vanity  impelled  him  to  use  his 
power  for  the  defence  and  propagation  of  the  true  faith,  after 
the  example  of  his  renowned  predecessors,  Clovis,  Charlemagne, 
and  Saint  Lewis. 

Our  ancestors  naturally  looked  with  serious  alarm  on  the 
growing  power  of  France.  This  feeling,  in  itself  perfectly 
reasonable,  was  mingled  with  other  feelings  less  praiseworthy. 
France  was  our  old  enemy.  It  was  against  France  that  the 
most  glorious  battles  recorded  in  our  annals  had  been  fought. 
The  conquest  of  France  had  been  twice  effected  by  the 
Plantagenets.  The  loss  of  France  had  been  long  remembered 
as  a  great  national  disaster.  The  title  of  King  of  France 
was  still  borne  by  our  sovereigns.  The  lilies  of  France  still 
appeared,  mingled  with  our  own  lions,  on  the  shield  of  the 
House  of  Stuart.  In  the  sixteenth  century  the  dread  inspired 
by  Spain  had  suspended  the  animosity  of  which  France  had 
anciently  been  the  object.  But  the  dread  inspired  by  Spain 
had  given  place  to  contemptuous  compassion  ;  and  France  was 
again  regarded  as  our  national  foe.  The  sale  of  Dunkirk  to 
France  had  been  the  most  generally  unpopular  act  of  the 
restored  King.  Attachment  to  France  had  been  prominent 
among  the  crimes  imputed  by  the  Commons  to  Clarendon. 
Even  in  trifles  the  public  feeling  showed  itself.  When  a  brawl 
took  place  in  the  streets  of  Westminster  between  the  retinues 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1^1 

of  the  French  and  Spanish  embassies,  the  populace,  though 
forcibly  prevented  from  interfering,  had  given  unequivocal 
proofs  that  the  old  antipathy  was  not  extinct. 

France  and  Spain  were  now  engaged  in  a  more  serious 
contest.  One  of  the  chief  objects  of  the  policy  of  Lewis 
throughout  his  life  was  to  extend  his  dominions  towards  the 
Rhine.  For  this  end  he  had  engaged  in  war  with  Spain,  and 
he  was  now  in  the  full  career  of  conquest.  The  United 
Provinces  saw  with  anxiety  the  progress  of  his  arms.  That 
renowned  federation  had  reached  the  height  of  power,  prosperity, 
and  glory.  The  Batavian  territory,  conquered  from  the 
waves,  and  defended  against  them  by  human  art,  was  in  extent 
little  superior  to  the  principality  of  Wales.  But  all  that  narrow 
space  was  a  busy  and  populous  hive,  in  which  new  wealth  was 
every  day  created,  and  in  which  vast  masses  of  old  wealth  were 
hoarded.  The  aspect  of  Holland,  the  rich  cultivation,  the 
innumera.ble  canals,  the  ever  whirling  mills,  the  endless  fleets 
of  barges,  the  quick  succession  of  great  towns,  the  ports 
bristling  with  thousands  of  masts,  the  large  and  stately 
mansions,  the  trim  villas,  the  richly  furnished  apartments,  the 
picture  galleries,  the  summer  houses,  the  tulip  beds,  produced 
on  English  travellers  in  that  age  an  effect  similar  to  the  effect 
which  the  first  sight  of  England  now  produces  on  a  Norwegian 
or  a  Canadian.  The  States  General  had  been  compelled  to 
humble  themselves  before  Cromwell.  But  after  the  Restoration 
they  had  taken  their  revenge,  had  waged  war  with  success 
against  Charles,  and  had  concluded  peace  on  honourable  terms. 
Rich,  however,  as  the  Republic  was,  and  highly  considered  in 
Europe,  she  was  no  match  for  the  power  of  Lewis.  She 
apprehended,  not  without  good  cause,  that  his  kingdom  might 
soon  be  extended  to  her  frontiers ;  and  she  might  well  dread 
the  immediate  vicinity  of  a  monarch  so  great,  so  ambitious, 
and  so  unscrupulous.  Yet  it  was  not  easy  to  devise  any 
expedient  which  might  avert  the  danger.  The  Dutch  alone 
could  not  turn  the  scale  against  France.  On  the  side  of  the 
Rhine  no  help  was  to  be  expected.  Several  German  princes 
had  been  gained  by  Lewis  ;  and  the  Emperor  himself  was 
embarrassed  by  the  discontents  of  Hungary.  England  was 
separated  from  the  United  Provinces  by  the  recollection  of 
cruel  injuries  recently  inflicted  and  endured  ;  and  her  policy 
had,  since  the  Restoration,  been  so  devoid  of  wisdom  and 
spirit,  that  it  was  scarcely  possible  to  expect  from  her  any 
valuable  assistance. 

But  the  fate  of  Clarendon  and  the  growing  ill  humour  of 



the  Parliament  determined  the  advisers  of  Charles  to  adopt 
on  a  sudden  a  policy  which  amazed  and  delighted  the  nation. 

The  English  resident  at  Brussels,  Sir  William  Temple,  one 
of  the  most  expert  diplomatists  and  most  pleasing  writers  of 
that  age,  had  already  represented  to  his  court  that  it  was  both 
desirable  and  practicable  to  enter  into  engagements  with  the 
States  General  for  the  purpose  of  checking  the  progress  of 
France.  For  a  time  his  suggestions  had  been  slighted ;  but 
it  was  now  thought  expedient  to  act  on  them.  He  was  com- 
missioned to  negotiate  with  the  States  General.  He  proceeded 
to  the  Hague,  and  soon  came  to  an  understanding  with  John 
De  Witt,  then  the  chief  minister  of  Holland.  Sweden,  small 
as  her  resources  were,  had,  forty  years  before,  been  raised  by 
the  genius  of  Gustavus  Adolphus  to  a  high  rank  among 
European  powers,  and  had  not  yet  descended  to  her  natural 
position.  She  was  induced  to  join  on  this  occasion  with  Eng- 
land and  the  States.  Thus  was  formed  that  coalition  known 
as  the  Triple  Alliance.  Lewis  showed  signs  of  vexation  and 
resentment,  but  did  not  think  it  politic  to  draw  on  himself  the 
hostility  of  such  a  confederacy  in  addition  to  that  of  Spain. 
He  consented,  therefore,  to  relinquish  a  large  part  of  the  terri- 
tory which  his  armies  had  occupied.  Peace  was  restored  to 
Europe ;  and  the  English  government,  lately  an  object  of 
general  contempt,  was,  during  a  few  months,  regarded  by 
foreign  powers  with  respect  scarcely  less  than  that  which  the 
Protector  had  inspired. 

At  home  the  Triple  Alliance  was  popular  in  the  highest 
degree.  It  gratified  alike  national  animosity  and  national 
pride.  It  put  a  limit  to  the  encroachments  of  a  powerful  and 
ambitious  neighbour.  It  bound  the  leading  Protestant  states 
together  in  close  union.  Cavaliers  and  Roundheads  rejoiced 
in  common :  but  the  joy  of  the  Roundhead  was  even  greater 
than  that  of  the  Cavalier.  For  England  had  now  allied  her- 
self strictly  with  a  country  republican  in  government  and 
Presbyterian  in  religion,  against  a  country  ruled  by  an  arbitrary 
prince  and  attached  to  the  Roman  Catholic  Church.  The 
House  of  Commons  loudly  applauded  the  treaty ;  and  some 
uncourtly  grumblers  described  it  as  the  only  good  thing  that 
had  been  done  since  the  King  came  in. 

The  King,  however,  oared  little  for  the  approbation  of  his 
Parliament  or  of  his  people.  The  Triple  Alliance  he  regarded 
merely  as  a  temporary  expedient  for  quieting  discontents 
which  had  seemed  likely  to  become  serious.  The  independ- 
ence, the   safety,  the  dignity  of  the  nation   over  which   he 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 53 

presided  were  nothing  to  him.  He  had  begun  to  find  con- 
stitutional restraints  galling.  Already  had  been  formed  in  the 
Parliament  a  strong  connection  known  by  the  name  of  the 
Country  Party.  That  party  included  all  the  public  men  who 
leaned  towards  Puritanism  and  Republicanism,  and  many  who, 
though  attached  to  the  Church  and  to  hereditary  monarchy, 
had  been  driven  into  opposition  by  dread  of  Popery,  by  dread 
of  France,  and  by  disgust  at  the  extravagance,  dissoluteness, 
and  faithlessness  of  the  court.  The  power  of  this  band  of 
politicians  was  constantly  growing.  Every  year  some  of  those 
members  who  had  been  returned  to  Parliament  during  the 
loyal  excitement  of  1661  dropped  off;  and  the  vacant  seats 
were  generally  filled  by  persons  less  tractable.  Charles  did 
not  think  himself  a  King  while  an  assembly  of  subjects  could 
call  for  his  accounts  before  paying  his  debts,  and  could  insist 
on  knowing  which  of  his  mistresses  or  boon  companions  had 
intercepted  the  money  destined  for  the  equipping  and  manning 
of  the  fleet.  Though  not  very  studious  of  fame,  he  was  galled 
by  the  taunts  which  were  sometimes  uttered  in  the  discussions 
of  the  Commons,  and  on  one  occasion  attempted  to  restrain 
the  freedom  of  speech  by  disgraceful  means.  Sir  John 
Coventry,  a  country  gentleman,  had,  in  debate,  sneered  at 
the  profligacy  of  the  court.  In  any  former  reign  he  would 
probably  have  been  called  before  the  Privy  Council  and 
committed  to  the  Tower.  A  different  course  was  now  taken. 
A  gang  of  bullies  was  secretly  sent  to  slit  the  nose  of  the 
offender.  This  ignoble  revenge,  instead  of  quelling  the 
spirit  of  opposition,  raised  such  a  tempest  that  the  King  was 
compelled  to  submit  to  the  cruel  humihation  of  passing  an 
act  which  attainted  the  instruments  of  his  revenge,  and  which 
took  from  him  the  power  of  pardoning  them. 

But,  impatient  as  he  was  of  constitutional  restraints,  how 
was  he  to  emancipate  himself  from  them?  He  could  make 
himself  despotic  only  by  the  help  of  a  great  standing  army ; 
and  such  an  army  was  not  in  existence.  His  revenues  did 
indeed  enable  him  to  keep  up  some  regular  troops  :  but  these 
troops,  though  numerous  enough  to  excite  great  jealousy  and 
apprehension  in  the  House  of  Commons  and  in  the  country, 
were  scarcely  numerous  enough  to  protect  Whitehall  and  the 
Tower  against  a  rising  of  the  mob  of  London.  Such  risings 
were,  indeed,  to  be  dreaded ;  for  it  was  calculated  that  in  the 
capital  and  its  suburbs  dwelt  not  less  than  twenty  thousand  of 
Oliver's  old  soldiers. 

Since  the  King  was  bent  on  emancipating  himself  from  the 


control  of  Parliament,  and  since,  in  such  an  enterprise,  he 
could  not  hope  for  effectual  aid  at  home,  it  followed  that  he 
must  look  for  aid  abroad.  The  power  and  wealth  of  the  King 
of  France  might  be  equal  to  the  arduous  task  of  establishing 
absolute  monarchy  in  England.  Such  an  ally  would  undoubt- 
edly expect  substantial  proofs  of  gratitude  for  such  a  service. 
Charles  must  descend  to  the  rank  of  a  great  vassal,  and  must 
make  peace  and  war  according  to  the  directions  of  the 
government  which  protected  him.  His  relation  to  Lewis 
would  closely  resemble  that  in  which  the  Rajah  of  Nagpore 
and  the  King  of  Oude  now  stand  to  the  British  government. 
Those  princes  are  bound  to  aid  the  East  India  Company  in  all 
hostilities,  defensive  and  offensive,  and  to  have  no  diplomatic 
relations  but  such  as  the  East  India  Company  shall  sanction. 
The  Company  in  return  guarantees  them  against  insurrection. 
As  long  as  they  faithfully  discharge  their  obligations  to  the 
paramount  power,  they  are  permitted  to  dispose  of  large 
revenues,  to  fill  their  palaces  with  beautiful  women,  to  besot 
themselves  in  the  company  of  their  favourite  revellers,  and  to 
oppress  with  impunity  any  subject  who  may  incur  their  dis- 
pleasure. Such  a  life  would  be  insupportable  to  a  man  of 
high  spirit  and  of  powerful  understanding.  But  to  Charles, 
sensual,  indolent,  unequal  to  any  strong  intellectual  exertion, 
and  destitute  alike  of  all  patriotism  and  of  all  sense  of  personal 
dignity,  the  prospect  had  nothing  unpleasing. 

That  the  Duke  of  York  should  have  concurred  in  the 
design  of  degrading  that  crown  which  it  was  probable  that  he 
would  himself  one  day  wear  may  seem  more  extraordinary. 
For  his  nature  was  haughty  and  imperious  ;  and,  indeed,  he 
continued  to  the  very  last  to  show,  by  occasional  starts  and 
struggles,  his  impatience  of  the  French  yoke.  But  he  was 
almost  as  much  debased  by  superstition  as  his  brother  by 
indolence  and  vice.  James  was  now  a  Roman  Catholic. 
Religious  bigotry  had  become  the  dominant  sentiment  of  his 
narrow  and  stubborn  mind,  and  had  so  mingled  itself  with  his 
love  of  rule,  that  the  two  passions  could  hardly  be  distinguished 
from  each  other.  It  seemed  highly  improbable  that,  without 
foreign  aid,  he  would  be  able  to  obtain  ascendency  or  even 
toleration  for  his  own  faith  :  and  he  was  in  a  temper  to  see 
nothing  humiliating  in  any  step  which  might  promote  the 
interests  of  the  true  Church. 

A  negotiation  was  opened  which  lasted  during  several 
months.  The  chief  agent  between  the  English  and  French 
courts  was  the  beautiful,  graceful,  and  intelligent  Henrietta, 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 55 

Duchess  of  Orleans,  sister  of  Charles,  sister  in  law  of  Lewis, 
and  a  favourite  with  both.  The  King  of  England  offered  to 
declare  himself  a  Roman  Catholic,  to  dissolve  the  Triple 
Alliance,  and  to  join  with  France  against  Holland,  if  France 
would  engage  to  lend  him  such  military  and  pecuniary  aid  as 
might  make  him  independent  of  his  Parliament.  Lewis  at 
first  affected  to  receive  these  propositions  coolly,  and  at  length 
agreed  to  them  with  the  air  of  a  man  who  is  conferring  a  great 
favour :  but  in  truth,  the  course  which  he  had  resolved  to  take 
was  one  by  which  he  might  gain  and  could  not  lose. 

It  seems  certain  that  he  never  seriously  thought  of  establish- 
ing despotism  and  Popery  in  England  by  force  of  arms.  He 
must  have  been  aware  that  such  an  enterprise  would  be  in  the 
highest  degree  arduous  and  hazardous,  that  it  would  task  to 
the  utmost  all  the  energies  of  France  during  many  years,  and 
that  it  would  be  altogether  incompatible  with  more  promising 
schemes  of  aggrandisement,  which  were  dear  to  his  heart.  He 
would  indeed  willingly  have  acquired  the  merit  and  the  glory 
of  doing  a  great  service  on  reasonable  terms  to  the  Church  of 
which  he  was  a  member.  But  he  was  little  disposed  to 
imitate  his  ancestors  who,  in  the  twelfth  and  thirteenth 
centuries,  had  led  the  flower  of  French  chivalry  to  die  in 
Syria  and  Egypt ;  and  he  well  knew  that  a  crusade  against 
Protestantism  in  Great  Britain  would  not  be  less  perilous  than 
the  expeditions  in  which  the  armies  of  Lewis  the  Seventh  and 
of  Lewis  the  Ninth  had  perished.  He  had  no  motive  for 
wishing  the  Stuarts  to  be  absolute.  He  did  not  regard  the 
English  constitution  with  feelings  at  all  resembling  those  which 
have  in  later  times  induced  princes  to  make  war  on  the  free 
institutions  of  neighbouring  nations.  At  present  a  great  party 
zealous  for  popular  government  has  ramifications  in  every 
civilised  country.  Any  important  advantage  gained  anywhere 
by  that  party  is  almost  certain  to  be  the  signal  for  general 
commotion.  It  is  not  wonderful  that  governments  threatened 
by  a  common  danger  should  combine  for  the  purpose  of 
mutual  insurance.  But  in  the  seventeenth  century  no  such 
danger  existed.  Between  the  public  mind  of  England  and  the 
public  mind  of  France,  there  was  a  great  gulph.  Our  institu- 
tions and  our  factions  were  as  little  understood  at  Paris  as  at 
Constantinople.  It  may  be  doubted  whether  any  one  of  the 
forty  members  of  the  French  Academy  had  an  English  volume 
in  his  library,  or  knew  Shakspeare,  Jonson,  or  Spenser,  even 
by  name.  A  few  Huguenots,  who  had  inherited  the  mutinous 
spirit  of  their  ancestors,  might  perhaps  have  a  fellow  feeling 


with  their  brethren  in  the  faith,  the  Enghsh  Roundheads  :  but 
the  Huguenots  had  ceased  to  be  formidable.  The  French,  as 
a  body,  attached  to  the  Church  of  Rome,  and  proud  of  the 
greatness  of  their  King  and  of  their  own  loyalty,  looked  on  our 
struggles  against  Popery  and  arbitrary  power,  not  only  without 
admiration  or  sympathy,  but  with  strong  disapprobation  and 
disgust.  It  would  therefore  be  a  great  error  to  ascribe  the 
conduct  of  Lewis  to  apprehensions  at  all  resembling  those 
which,  in  our  age,  induced  the  Holy  Alliance  to  interfere  in 
the  internal  troubles  of  Naples  and  Spain. 

Nevertheless,  the  propositions  made  by  the  court  of  Whitehall 
were  most  welcome  to  him.  He  already  meditated  gigantic 
designs,  which  were  destined  to  keep  Europe  in  constant 
fermentation  during  more  than  forty  years.  He  wished  to 
humble  the  United  Provinces,  and  to  annex  Belgium,  Franche 
Comtd,  and  Loraine  to  his  dominions.  Nor  was  this  all.  The 
King  of  Spain  was  a  sickly  child.  It  was  likely  that  he  would 
die:  without  issue.  His  eldest  sister  was  Queen  of  France. 
A  day  would  almost  certainly  come,  and  might  come  very 
soon,  when  the  House  of  Bourbon  might  lay  claim  to  that 
vast  empire  on  which  the  sun  never  set.  The  union  of 
two  great  monarchies  under  one  head  would  doubtless  be 
opposed  by  a  continental  coalition.  But  for  any  continental 
coalition  France  single  handed  was  a  match.  England  could 
turn  the  scale.  On  the  course  which,  in  such  a  crisis,  England 
might  pursue,  the  destinies  of  the  world  would  depend ;  and  it 
was  notorious  that  the  English  Parliament  and  nation  were 
strongly  attached  to  the  policy  which  had  dictated  the  Triple 
Alliance.  Nothing,  therefore,  could  be  more  gratifying  to 
Lewis  than  to  learn  that  the  princes  of  the  House  of  Stuart 
needed  his  help,  and  were  willing  to  purchase  that  help  by 
unbounded  subserviency.  He  determined  to  profit  by  the 
opportunity,  and  laid  down  for  himself  a  plan  to  which,  without 
deviation,  he  adhered,  till  the  Revolution  of  1688  disconcerted 
all  his  politics.  He  professed  himself  desirous  to  promote  the 
designs  of  the  English  court.  He  promised  large  aid.  He 
from  time  to  tmie  doled  out  such  aid  as  might  serve  to  keep 
hope  alive,  and  as  he  could  without  risk  or  inconvenience 
spare.  In  this  way,  at  an  expense  very  much  less  than  that 
which  he  incurred  in  building  and  decorating  Versailles  or 
Marli,  he  succeeded  in  making  England,  during  nearly  twenty 
years,  almost  as  insignificant  a  member  of  the  political  system 
of  Europe  as  the  republic  of  San  Marino. 

His  object  was  not  to  destroy  our  constitution,  but  to  keep 

THE     REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  I  57 

the  various  elements  of  which  it  was  composed  in  a  perpetual 
state  of  conflict,  and  to  set  irreconcilable  enmity  between  those 
who  had  the  power  of  the  purse  and  those  who  had  the  power 
of  the  sword.  With  this  view  he  bribed  and  stimulated  both 
parties  in  turn,  pensioned  at  once  the  ministers  of  the  crown 
and  the  chiefs  of  the  opposition,  encouraged  the  court  to  with- 
stand the  seditious  encroachments  of  the  Parliament,  and 
conveyed  to  the  Parliament  intimations  of  the  arbitrary  designs 
of  the  court. 

One  of  the  devices  to  which  he  resorted  for  the  purpose  of 
obtaining  an  ascendency  in  the  English  counsels  deserves 
especial  notice.  Charles,  though  incapable  of  love  in  the 
highest  sense  of  the  word,  was  the  slave  of  any  woman  whose 
person  excited  his  desires,  and  whose  airs  and  prattle  amused 
his  leisure.  Indeed  a  husband  would  be  justly  derided 
who  should  bear  from  a  wife  of  exalted  rank  and  spotless  virtue 
half  the  insolence  which  the  King  of  England  bore  from  con- 
cubines who,  while  they  owed  everything  to  his  bounty,  caressed 
his  courtiers  almost  before  his  face.  He  had  patiently  endured 
the  termagant  passions  of  Barbara  Palmer  and  the  pert  vivacity 
of  Eleanor  Gwynn.  Lewis  thought  that  the  most  useful  envoy 
who  could  be  sent  to  London,  would  be  a  handsome,  licentious, 
and  crafty  Frenchwoman.  Such  a  woman  was  Louisa,  a  lady 
of  the  House  of  Querouaille,  whom  our  rude  ancestors  called 
Madam  Carwell.  She  was  soon  triumphant  over  all  her  rivals, 
was  created  Duchess  of  Portsmouth,  was  loaded  with  wealth, 
and  obtained  a  dominion  which  ended  only  with  the  life  of 

The  most  important  conditions  of  the  alliance  between  the 
crowns  were  digested  into  a  secret  treaty  which  was  signed  at 
Dover  in  May  1670,  just  ten  years  after  the  day  on  which 
Charles  had  landed  at  that  very  port  amidst  the  acclamations 
and  joyful  tears  of  a  too  confiding  people. 

By  this  treaty  Charles  bound  himself  to  make  public 
profession  of  the  Roman  Catholic  religion,  to  join  his  arms  to 
those  of  Lewis  for  the  purpose  of  destroying  the  power  of  the 
United  Provinces,  and  to  employ  the  whole  strength  of 
England,  by  land  and  sea,  in  support  of  the  rights  of  the 
House  of  Bourbon  to  the  vast  monarchy  of  Spain.  Lewis,  on 
the  otlier  hand,  engaged  to  pay  a  large  subsidy,  and  promised 
that,  if  any  insurrection  should  break  out  in  England,  he  would 
send  an  army  at  his  own  charge  to  support  his  ally. 

This  compact  was  made  with  gloomy  auspices.  Six  weeks 
after  it  had  been  signed  and  sealed,  the  charming  princess, 


whose  influence  over  her  brother  and  brother  in  law  liad  been 
so  pernicious  to  her  country,  was  no  more.  Her  death  gave 
rise  to  horrible  suspicions  which,  for  a  moment,  seemed  likely 
to  interrupt  the  newly  formed  friendship  between  the  Houses 
of  Stuart  and  Bourbon  :  but  in  a  short  time  fresh  assurances 
of  undiminished  good  will  were  exchanged  between  the 

The  Duke  of  York,  too  dull  to  apprehend  danger,  or  too 
fanatical  to  care  about  it,  was  impatient  to  see  the  article 
touching  the  Roman  Catholic  religion  carried  into  immediate 
execution :  but  Lewis  had  the  wisdom  to  perceive  that,  if  this 
course  were  taken,  there  would  be  such  an  explosion  in 
England  as  would  probably  frustrate  those  parts  of  the  plan 
which  he  had  most  at  heart.  It  was  therefore  determined  that 
Charles  should  still  call  himself  a  Protestant,  and  should  still, 
at  high  festivals,  receive  the  sacrament  according  to  the  ritual 
of  the  Church  of  England.  His  more  scrupulous  brother 
ceased  to  appear  in  the  royal  chapel. 

About  this  time  died  the  Duchess  of  York,  daughter  of  the 
banished  Earl  of  Clarendon.  She  had  been,  during  some 
years,  a  concealed  Roman  Catholic.  She  left  two  daughters, 
Mary  and  Anne,  afterwards  successively  Queens  of  Great 
Britain.  They  were  bred  Protestants  by  the  positive  command 
of  the  King,  who  knew  that  it  would  be  vain  for  him  to  profess 
himself  a  member  of  the  Church  of  England,  if  children  who 
seemed  likely  to  inherit  his  throne  were,  by  his  permission, 
brought  up  as  members  of  the  Church  of  Rome. 

The  principal  servants  of  the  crown  at  this  time  were  men 
whose  names  have  justly  acquired  an  unenviable  notoriety. 
We  must  take  heed,  however,  that  we  do  not  load  their 
memory  with  infamy  which  of  right  belongs  to  their  master 
For  the  treaty  of  Dover  the  King  himself  is  chiefly  answerable. 
He  held  conferences  on  it  with  the  French  agents :  he  wrote 
many  letters  concerning  it  with  his  own  hand  :  he  was  the 
person  who  first  suggested  the  most  disgraceful  articles  which 
it  contained  ;  and  he  carefully  concealed  some  of  those  articles 
from  the  majority  of  his  Cabinet. 

Few  things  in  our  history  are  more  curious  than  the  origin 
and  growth  of  the  power  now  possessed  by  the  Cabinet.  From 
an  early  period  the  Kings  of  England  had  been  assisted  by  a 
Privy  Council  to  which  the  law  assigned  many  important 
functions  and  duties.  During  several  centuries  this  body 
deliberated  on  the  gravest  and  most  delicate  affairs.  But  by 
degrees  its  character  changed.    It  became  too  large  for  despatch 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  I  59 

and  secrecy.  The  rank  of  Privy  Councillor  was  often  bestowed 
as  an  honorary  distinction  on  persons  to  whom  nothing  was 
confided,  and  whose  opinion  was  never  asked.  The  sovereign, 
on  the  most  important  occasions,  resorted  for  advice  to 
a  small  knot  of  leading  ministers.  The  advantages  and 
disadvantages  of  this  course  were  early  pointed  out  by  Bacon, 
with  his  usual  judgment  and  sagacity  :  but  it  was  not 
till  after  the  Restoration  that  the  interior  council  began 
to  attract  general  notice.  During  many  years  old  fashioned 
politicians  continued  to  regard  the  Cabinet  as  an  unconsti- 
tutional and  dangerous  board.  Nevertheless,  it  constantly 
became  more  and  more  important.  It  at  length  drew  to  itself 
the  chief  executive  power,  and  has  now  been  regarded,  during 
several  generations,  as  an  essential  part  of  our  polity.  Yet, 
strange  to  say,  it  still  continues  to  be  altogether  unknown  to 
the  law.  The  names  of  the  noblemen  and  gentlemen  who 
compose  it  are  never  officially  announced  to  the  public.  No 
record  is  kept  of  its  meetings  and  resolutions ;  nor  has  its 
existence  ever  been  recognised  by  any  Act  of  Parliament. 

During  some  years  the  word  Cabal  was  popularly  used  as 
synonymous  with  Cabinet.  But  it  happened  by  a  whimsical 
coincidence  that,  in  1671,  the  Cabinet  consisted  of  five  persons 
the  initial  letters  of  whose  names  made  up  the  word  Cabal, 
Clifford,  Arlington,  Buckingham,  Ashley,  and  Lauderdale. 
These  ministers  were  therefore  emphatically  called  the  Cabal ; 
and  they  soon  made  that  appellation  so  infamous  that  it  has 
never  since  their  time  been  used  except  as  a  term  of  reproach. 

Sir  Thomas  Clifford  was  a  Commissioner  of  the  Treasury, 
and  had  greatly  distinguished  himself  in  the  House  of 
Commons.  Of  the  members  of  the  Cabal  he  was  the  most 
respectable.  For,  with  a  fiery  and  imperious  temper,  he  had  a 
strong  though  a  lamentably  perverted  sense  of  duty  and 

Henry  Bennet,  Lord  Arlington,  then  Secretary  of  State,  had, 
since  he  came  to  manhood,  resided  principally  on  the  Con- 
tinent, and  had  learned  that  cosmopolitan  indifference  to 
constitutions  and  religions  which  is  often  observable  in  persons 
whose  life  has  been  passed  in  vagrant  diplomacy.  If  there 
was  any  form  of  government  which  he  liked,  it  was  that  of 
France.  If  there  was  any  Church  for  which  he  felt  a  prefer- 
ence, it  was  that  of  Rome.  He  had  some  talent  for  conversa- 
tion, and  some  talent  also  for  transacting  the  ordinary  business 
of  office.  He  had  learned,  during  a  life  passed  in  travelling 
and  negotiating,  the  art  of  accommodating  his  language  and 



deportment  to  the  society  in  which  he  found  himself.  His 
vivacity  in  the  closet  amused  the  King :  his  gravity  in  debates 
and  conferences  imposed  on  the  pubhc  :  and  he  had  succeeded 
in  attaching  to  himself,  partly  by  services  and  partly  by  hopes, 
a  considerable  number  of  personal  retainers. 

Buckingham,  Ashley,  and  Lauderdale,  were  men  in  whom 
the  immorality  which  was  epidemic  among  the  politicians  of 
that  age  appeared  in  its  most  malignant  type,  but  variously 
modified  by  great  diversities  of  temper  and  understanding. 
Buckingham  was  a  sated  man  of  pleasure,  who  had  turned  to 
ambition  as  to  a  pastime.  As  he  had  tried  to  amuse  himself 
with  architecture  and  music,  with  writing  farces  and  with  seeking 
for  the  philosopher's  stone,  so  he  now  tried  to  amuse  himself 
with  a  secret  negotiation  and  a  Dutch  war.  He  had  already, 
rather  from  fickleness  and  love  of  novelty  than  from  any 
deep  design,  been  faithless  to  every  party.  At  one  time 
he  had  ranked  among  the  Cavaliers.  At  another  time 
warrants  had  been  out  against  him  for  maintaining  a  treason- 
able correspondence  with  the  remains  of  the  Republican  party 
in  the  city.  He  was  now  again  a  courtier,  and  was  eager  to 
win  the  favour  of  the  King  by  services  from  which  the  most 
illustrious  of  those  who  had  fought  and  suffered  for  the  royal 
house  would  have  recoiled  with  horror. 

Ashley,  with  a  far  stronger  head,  and  with  a  far  fiercer  and 
more  earnest  ambition,  had  been  equally  versatile.  But 
Ashley's  versatility  was  the  effect,  not  of  levit}',  but  of  deUberate 
selfishness.  He  had  served  and  betrayed  a  succession  of 
governments.  But  he  had  timed  all  his  treacheries  so  well 
that,  through  all  revolutions,  his  fortunes  had  constantly  been 
rising.  The  multitude,  struck  with  admiration  by  a  prosperity 
which,  while  everything  else  was  constantly  changing,  remained 
unchangeable,  attributed  to  him  a  prescience  almost  miraculous, 
and  likened  him  to  the  Hebrew  statesman  of  whom  it  is  written 
that  his  counsel  was  as  if  a  man  had  inquired  of  the  oracle  of 

Lauderdale,  loud  and  coarse  both  in  mirth  and  anger,  was 
perhaps,  under  the  outward  show  of  boisterous  frankness,  the 
most  dishonest  man  in  the  whole  Cabal.  He  had  been  con- 
spicuous among  the  Scotch  insurgents  of  1638,  and  zealous  for 
the  Covenant.  He  was  accused  of  having  been  deeply  con- 
cerned in  the  sale  of  Charles  the  First  to  the  English 
Parliament,  and  was  therefore,  in  the  estimation  of  good 
Cavaliers,  a  traitor,  if  possible,  of  a  worse  description  than 
those  who  had  sate  in  the  High  Court  of  Justice.     He  often 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  l6l 

talked  with  noisy  jocularity  of  the  days  when  he  was  a  canter 
and  a  rebel.  He  was  now  the  chief  instrument  employed  by 
the  court  in  the  work  of  forcing  episcopacy  on  his  reluctant 
countrymen ;  nor  did  he  in  that  cause  shrink  from  the  unspar- 
ing use  of  the  sword,  the  halter,  and  the  boot.  Yet  those  who 
knew  him  knew  that  thirty  years  had  made  no  change  in  his 
real  sentiments,  that  he  still  hated  the  memory  of  Charles 
the  First,  and  that  he  still  preferred  the  Presbyterian  form  of 
church  government  to  every  other. 

Unscrupulous  as  Buckingham,  Ashley,  and  Lauderdale  were, 
it  was  not  thought  safe  to  entrust  to  them  the  King's  intention 
of  declaring  himself  a  Roman  Catholic.  A  false  treaty,  in 
which  the  article  concerning  religion  was  omitted,  was  shown 
to  them.  The  names  and  seals  of  Clifford  and  Arlington  are 
affixed  to  the  genuine  treaty.  Both  these  statesmen  had  a 
partiality  for  the  old  Church,  a  partiality  which  the  brave  and 
vehement  Clifford  in  no  long  time  manfully  avowed,  but  which 
the  colder  and  meaner  Arlington  concealed,  till  the  near 
approach  of  death  scared  him  into  sincerity.  The  three  other 
cabinet  ministers,  however,  were  not  men  to  be  easily  kept  in 
the  dark,  and  probably  suspected  more  than  was  distinctly 
avowed  to  them.  They  were  certainly  privy  to  all  the  political 
engagements  contracted  with  France,  and  were  not  ashamed  to 
receive  large  gratifications  from  Lewis. 

The  first  object  of  Charles  was  to  obtain  from  the  Commons 
supplies  which  might  be  employed  in  executing  the  secret 
treaty.  The  Cabal,  holding  power  at  a  time  when  our  govern- 
ment was  in  a  state  of  transition,  united  in  itself  two  different 
kinds  of  vices  belonging  to  two  different  ages  and  to  two 
different  systems.  As  those  five  evil  counsellors  were  among 
the  last  English  statesmen  who  seriously  thought  of  destroying 
the  Parliament,  so  they  were  the  first  English  statesmen  who 
attempted  extensively  to  corrupt  it.  We  find  in  their  policy  at 
once  the  latest  trace  of  the  Thorough  of  Strafford,  and  the 
earliest  trace  of  that  methodical  bribery  which  was  afterwards 
practised  by  Walpole.  They  soon  perceived,  however,  that, 
though  the  House  of  Commons  was  chiefly  composed  of  Cava- 
liers, and  though  places  and  French  gold  had  been  lavished  on 
the  members,  there  was  no  chance  that  even  the  least  odious 
parts  of  the  scheme  arranged  at  Dover  would  be  supported  by 
a  majority.  It  was  necessary  to  have  recourse  to  fraud.  The 
King  accordingly  professed  great  zeal  for  the  principles  of  the 
Triple  Alliance,  and  pretended  that,  in  order  to  hold  the 
ambition  of  France  in  check,  it  would  be  necessary  to  augment 


the  fleet.  The  Commons  fell  into  the  snare,  and  voted  a  grant 
of  eight  hundred  thousand  pounds.  The  Parliament  was 
instantly  prorogued  ;  and  the  court,  thus  emancipated  from 
control,  proceeded  to  the  execution  of  the  great  design. 

The  financial  difficulties  were  serious.  A  war  with  Holland 
could  be  carried  on  only  at  enormous  cost.  The  ordinary 
revenue  was  not  more  than  sufficient  to  support  the  government 
in  time  of  peace.  The  eight  hundred  thousand  pounds  out  of 
which  the  Commons  had  just  been  tricked  would  not  defray 
the  naval  and  military  charge  of  a  single  year  of  hostilities. 
After  the  terrible  lesson  given  by  the  Long  Parliament,  even 
the  Cabal  did  not  venture  to  recommend  benevolences  or 
shipmoney.  In  this  perplexity  Ashley  and  CHfford  proposed 
a  flagitious  breach  of  public  faith.  The  goldsmiths  of  London 
were  then  not  only  dealers  in  the  precious  metals,  but  also 
bankers,  and  were  in  the  habit  of  advancing  large  sums  of  money 
to  the  government.  In  return  for  these  advances  they  received 
assignments  on  the  revenue,  and  were  repaid  with  interest  as 
the  taxes  came  in.  About  thirteen  hundred  thousand  pounds 
had  been  in  this  way  entrusted  to  the  honour  of  the  state.  On 
a  sudden  it  was  announced  that  it  was  not  convenient  to  pay 
the  principal,  and  that  the  lenders  must  content  themselves 
with  interest.  They  were  consequently  unable  to  meet  their 
own  engagements.  The  Exchange  was  in  an  uproar  :  several 
great  mercantile  houses  broke ;  and  dismay  and  distress  spread 
through  all  society.  Meanwhile  rapid  strides  were  made 
towards  despotism.  Proclamations,  dispensing  with  Acts  of 
Parliament  or  enjoining  what  only  Parliament  could  lawfully 
enjoin,  appeared  in  rapid  succession.  Of  these  edicts  the  most 
important  was  the  Declaration  of  Indulgence.  By  this  instru- 
ment the  penal  laws  against  Roman  Catholics  were  set  aside ; 
and,  that  the  real  object  of  the  measure  might  not  be 
perceived,  the  laws  against  Protestant  Nonconformists  were 
also  suspended. 

A  few  days  after  the  appearance  of  the  Declaration  of  Indul- 
gence, war  was  proclaimed  against  the  United  Provinces.  By 
sea  the  Dutch  maintained  the  struggle  with  honour ;  but  on 
land  they  were  at  first  borne  down  by  irresistible  force.  A 
great  French  army  passed  the  Rhine.  Fortress  after  fortress 
opened  its  gates.  Three  of  the  seven  provinces  of  the  federa- 
tion were  occupied  by  the  invaders.  The  fires  of  the  hostile 
camp  were  seen  from  the  top  of  the  Stadthouse  of  Amsterdam. 
The  Republic,  thus  fiercely  assailed  from  without,  was  torn  at 
the  same  time  by  internal  dissensions.     The  government  was 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 63 

in  the  hands  of  a  close  oligarchy  of  powerful  burghers.  There 
were  numerous  selfelected  town  councils,  each  of  which 
exercised,  within  its  own  sphere,  many  of  the  rights  of 
sovereignty.  These  councils  sent  delegates  to  the  Provincial 
States,  and  the  Provincial  States  again  sent  delegates  to  the 
States  General.  A  hereditary  first  magistrate  was  no  essential 
part  of  this  polity.  Nevertheless  one  family,  singularly  fertile 
of  great  men,  had  gradually  obtained  a  large  and  somewhat 
indefinite  authority.  William,  first  of  the  name.  Prince  of 
Orange  Nassau,  and  Stadtholder  of  Holland,  had  headed  the 
memorable  insurrection  against  Spain.  His  son  Maurice  had 
been  Captain  General  and  first  minister  of  the  States,  had,  by 
eminent  abilities  and  public  services,  and  by  some  treacherous 
and  cruel  actions,  raised  himself  to  almost  kingly  power,  and 
had  bequeathed  a  great  part  of  that  power  to  his  family.  The 
influence  of  the  Stadtholders  was  an  object  of  extreme  jealousy 
to  the  municipal  oligarchy.  But  the  army,  and  that  great  body 
of  citizens  which  was  excluded  from  all  share  in  the  govern- 
ment, looked  on  the  Burgomasters  and  Deputies  with  a  dislike 
resembling  the  dislike  with  which  the  legions  and  the  common 
people  of  Rome  regarded  the  Senate,  and  were  as  zealous  for 
the  House  of  Orange  as  the  legions  and  the  common  people 
of  Rome  for  the  House  of  Caesar.  The  Stadtholder  com- 
manded the  forces  of  the  commonwealth,  disposed  of  all 
military  commands,  had  a  large  share  of  the  civil  patronage, 
and  was  surrounded  by  pomp  almost  regal. 

Prince  WiUiam  the  Second  had  been  strongly  opposed  by  the 
oligarchical  party.  His  life  had  terminated  in  the  year  1650, 
amidst  great  civil  troubles.  He  died  childless  :  the  adherents 
of  his  house  were  left  for  a  short  time  without  a  head  ;  and  the 
powers  which  he  had  exercised  were  divided  among  the  town 
councils,  the  Provincial  States,  and  the  States  General. 

But,  a  few  days  after  William's  death,  his  widow,  Mary, 
daughter  of  Charles  the  First,  King  of  Great  Britain,  gave  birth 
to  a  son,  destined  to  raise  the  glory  and  authority  of  the  House 
of  Nassau  to  the  highest  point,  to  save  the  United  Provinces 
from  slavery,  to  curb  the  power  of  France,  and  to  establish  the 
English  constitution  on  a  lasting  foundation. 

This  Prince,  named  William  Henry,  was  from  his  birth  an 
object  of  serious  apprehension  to  the  party  now  supreme  in 
Holland,  and  of  loyal  attachment  to  the  old  friends  of  his  line. 
He  enjoyed  high  consideration  as  the  possessor  of  a  splendid 
fortune,  as  the  chief  of  one  of  the  most  illustrious  houses  in 
Europe,  as  a  sovereign  prince  of  the  German  empire,  as  a  prince  of 


the  blood  royal  of  England,  and,  above  all,  as  the  descendant  of 
the  founders  of  Batavian  liberty.  But  the  high  office  which  had 
once  been  considered  as  hereditary  in  his  family,  remained  in 
abeyance  ;  and  the  intention  of  the  aristocratical  party  was  that 
there  should  never  be  another  Stadtholder.  The  want  of  a  first 
magistrate  was,  to  a  great  extent,  supplied  by  the  Grand  Pen- 
sionary of  the  Province  of  Holland,  John  de  Witt,  whose 
abilities,  firmness,  and  integrity  had  raised  him  to  unrivalled 
authority  in  the  counsels  of  the  municipal  oligarchy. 

The  French  invasion  produced  a  complete  change.  The 
suffering  and  terrified  people  raged  fiercely  against  the  govern- 
ment. In  their  madness  they  attacked  the  bravest  captains  and 
the  ablest  statesmen  of  the  distressed  commonwealth.  De 
Ruyter  was  insulted  by  the  rabble.  De  Witt  was  torn  in 
pieces  before  the  gate  of  the  palace  of  the  States  General  at 
the  Hague.  The  Prince  of  Orange,  who  had  no  share  in  the 
guilt  of  the  murder,  but  who,  on  this  occasion,  as  on  another 
lamentable  occasion  twenty  years  later,  extended  to  crimes  per- 
petrated in  his  cause  an  indulgence  which  has  left  a  stain  on  his 
glory,  became  chief  of  the  government  without  a  rival.  Young 
as  he  was,  his  ardent  and  unconquerable  spirit,  though  disguised 
by  a  cold  and  sullen  manner,  soon  roused  the  courage  of  his 
dismayed  countrymen.  It  was  in  vain  that  both  his  uncle  and 
the  French  King  attempted  by  splendid  offers  to  seduce  him 
from  the  cause  of  the  republic.  To  the  States  General  he 
spoke  a  high  and  inspiriting  language.  He  even  ventured  to 
suggest  a  scheme  which  has  an  aspect  of  antique  heroism,  and 
which,  if  it  had  been  accomplished,  would  have  been  the 
noblest  subject  for  epic  song  that  is  to  be  found  in  the  whole 
compass  of  modern  history.  He  told  the  deputies  that,  even 
if  their  natal  soil  and  the  marvels  with  which  human  industry 
had  covered  it  were  buried  under  the  ocean,  all  was  not  lost. 
The  Hollanders  might  survive  Holland.  Liberty  and  pure 
religion,  driven  by  tyrants  and  bigots  from  Europe,  might  take 
refuge  in^  the  farthest  isles  of  Asia.  The  shipping  in  the  ports 
of  the  republic  would  suffice  to  carry  two  hundred  thousand 
emigrants  to  the  Indian  Archipelago.  There  the  Dutch  com- 
monwealth might  commence  a  new  and  more  glorious  existence, 
and  might  rear,  under  the  Southern  Cross,  amidst  the  sugar 
canes  and  nutmeg  trees,  the  Exchange  of  a  wealthier  Amsterdam, 
and  the  schools  of  a  more  learned  Leyden.  The  national 
spirit  swelled  and  rose  high.  The  terms  offered  by  the  allies 
were  firmly  rejected.  The  dykes  were  opened.  The  whole 
country  was  one  great  lake,  from  which  the  cities,  with  their 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 65 

ramparts  and  steeples,  rose  like  islands.  The  invaders  were 
forced  to  save  themselves  from  destruction  by  a  precipitate  re- 
treat. Lewis,  who,  though  he  sometimes  thought  it  necessary 
to  appear  at  the  head  of  his  troops,  greatly  preferred  a  palace 
to  a  camp,  had  already  returned  to  enjoy  the  adulation  of 
poets  and  the  smiles  of  ladies  in  the  newly  planted  alleys  of 

And  now  the  tide  turned  fast.  The  event  of  the  maritime 
war  had  been  doubtful :  by  land  the  United  Provinces  had 
obtained  a  respite  ;  and  a  respite,  though  short,  was  of  infinite 
importance.  Alarmed  by  the  vast  designs  of  Lewis,  both  the 
branches  of  the  great  House  of  Austria  sprang  to  arms. 
Spain  and  Holland,  divided  by  the  memory  of  ancient  wrongs 
and  humiliations,  were  reconciled  by  the  nearness  of  the 
common  danger.  From  every  part  of  Germany  troops  poured 
towards  the  Rhine.  The  English  government  had  already  ex- 
pended all  the  funds  which  had  been  obtained  by  pillaging  the 
public  creditor.  No  loan  could  be  expected  from  the  City. 
An  attempt  to  raise  taxes  by  the  royal  authority  would  have  at 
once  produced  a  rebellion  ;  and  Lewis,  who  had  now  to  main- 
tain a  contest  against  half  Europe,  was  in  no  condition  to 
farnish  the  means  of  coercing  the  people  of  England.  It  was 
necessary  to  convoke  the  Parliament. 

In  the  spring  of  1673,  therefore,  the  Houses  reassembled 
after  a  recess  of  near  two  years.  Clifford,  now  a  peer  and 
Lord  Treasurer,  and  Ashley,  now  Earl  of  Shaftesbury  and 
Lord  Chancellor,  were  the  persons  on  whom  the  King  chiefly 
relied  as  Parliamentary  managers.  The  Country  Party 
instantly  began  to  attack  the  policy  of  the  Cabal.  The  attack 
was  made,  not  in  the  way  of  storm,  but  by  slow  and  scientific 
approaches.  The  Commons  at  first  held  out  hopes  that  they 
would  give  support  to  the  King's  foreign  policy,  but  insisted 
that  he  should  purchase  that  support  by  abandoning  his  whole 
system  of  domestic  policy.  Their  first  object  was  to  obtain 
the  revocation  of  the  Declaration  of  Indulgence.  Of  all  the 
many  unpopular  steps  taken  by  the  government  the  most  un- 
popular was  the  publishing  of  this  Declaration.  The  most 
opposite  sentiments  had  been  shocked  by  an  act  so  liberal, 
done  in  a  manner  so  despotic.  All  the  enemies  of  religious 
freedom,  and  all  the  friends  of  civil  freedom,  found  themselves 
on  the  same  side ;  and  these  two  classes  made  up  nineteen 
twentieths  of  the  nation.  The  zealous  Churchman  exclaimed 
against  the  favour  which  had  been  shown  both  to  the  Papist 
and  to  the  Puritan.     The  Puritan,  though  he  might  rejoice  in 


the  suspension  of  the  persecution  by  which  he  had  been 
harassed,  felt  little  gratitude  for  a  toleration  which  he  was 
to  share  with  Antichrist.  And  all  Englishmen  who  valued 
liberty  and  law,  saw^  with  uneasiness  the  deep  inroad  which 
the  prerogative  had  made  into  the  province  of  the  legislature. 

It  must  in  candour  be  admitted  that  the  constitutional 
question  was  then  not  quite  free  from  obscurity.  Our  ancient 
Kings  had  undoubtedly  claimed  and  exercised  the  right  of 
suspending  the  operation  of  penal  laws.  The  tribunals  had 
recognised  that  right.  Parliaments  had  suffered  it  to  pass 
unchallenged.  That  some  such  right  was  inherent  in  the 
crown,  few  even  of  the  Country  Party  ventured,  in  the  face  of 
precedent  and  authority,  to  deny.  Yet  it  was  clear  that,  if  this 
prerogative  were  without  limit,  the  English  government  could 
scarcely  be  distinguished  from  a  pure  despotism.  That  there 
was  a  limit  was  fully  admitted  by  the  King  and  his  ministers. 
Whether  the  Declaration  of  Indulgence  lay  within  or  without 
the  limit  was  the  question ;  and  neither  party  could  succeed  in 
tracing  any  line  which  would  bear  examination.  Some  oppo- 
nents of  the  government  complained  that  the  Declaration 
suspended  not  less  than  forty  statutes.  But  why  not  forty  as 
well  as  one  ?  There  was  an  orator  who  gave  it  as  his  opinion 
that  the  King  might  constitutionally  dispense  with  bad  laws,  but 
not  with  good  laws.  The  absurdity  of  such  a  distinction  it  is 
needless  to  expose.  The  doctrine  which  seems  to  have  been 
generally  received  in  the  House  of  Commons  was,  that  the 
dispensing  power  was  confined  to  secular  matters,  and  did  not 
extend  to  laws  enacted  for  the  security  of  the  established 
religion.  Yet,  as  the  King  was  supreme  head  of  the  Church, 
it  should  seem  that,  if  he  possessed  the  dispensing  power  at 
all,  he  might  well  possess  that  power  where  the  Church  was 
concerned.  When  the  courtiers  on  the  other  side  attempted 
to  point  out  the  bounds  of  this  prerogative,  they  were  not  more 
successful  than  the  opposition  had  been.* 

The  truth  is  that  the  dispensing  power  was  a  great  anomaly 
in  politics.  It  was  utterly  inconsistent  in  theory  with  the 
principles  of  mixed  government :  but  it  had  grown  up  in  times 
when  people  troubled  themselves  little  about  theories.  It  had 
not  been  very  grossly  abused  in  practice.  It  had  therefore 
been  tolerated,  and  had  gradually  acquired  a  kind  of  prescrip- 
tion.    At  length  it  was  employed,  after  a  long  interval,  in  an 

*  The  most  sensible  thing  said  in  the  House  of  Commons,  on  this 
subject,  came  from  Sir  WilHam  Coventry : — "  Our  ancestors  never  did 
draw  a  line  to  circumscribe  prerogative  and  liberty." 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 67 

enlightened  age,  and  at  an  important  conjuncture,  to  an  extent 
never  before  known,  and  for  a  purpose  generally  abhorred.  It 
was  instantly  subjected  to  a  severe  scrutiny.  Men  did  not, 
indeed,  at  first,  venture  to  pronounce  it  altogether  unconstitu- 
tional. But  they  began  to  perceive  that  it  was  at  direct 
variance  with  the  spirit  of  the  constitution,  and  would,  if  left 
unchecked,  turn  the  English  government  from  a  limited  into  an 
absolute  monarchy. 

Under  the  influence  of  such  apprehensions,  the  Commons 
denied  the  King's  right  to  dispense,  not  indeed  with  all  penal 
statutes,  but  with  penal  statutes  in  matters  ecclesiastical,  and 
gave  him  plainly  to  understand  that,  unless  he  renounced  that 
right,  they  would  grant  no  supply  for  the  Dutch  war.  He,  for 
a  moment,  showed  some  inclination  to  put  everything  to 
hazard :  but  he  was  strongly  advised  by  Lewis  to  submit  to 
necessity,  and  to  wait  for  better  times,  when  the  French  armies, 
now  employed  in  an  arduous  struggle  on  the  continent,  might 
be  available  for  the  purpose  of  suppressing  discontent  in 
England.  In  the  Cabal  itself  the  signs  of  disunion  and 
treachery  began  to  appear.  Shaftesbury,  with  his  proverbial 
sagacity,  saw  that  a  violent  reaction  was  at  hand,  and  that  all 
things  were  tending  towards  a  crisis  resembling  that  of  1 640. 
He  was  determined  that  such  a  crisis  should  not  find  him  in 
the  situation  of  Strafford.  He  therefore  turned  suddenly 
round,  and  acknowledged,  in  the  House  of  Lords,  that  the 
Declaration  was  illegal.  The  King,  thus  deserted  by  his  ally 
and  by  his  Chancellor,  yielded,  cancelled  the  Declaration,  and 
solemnly  promised  that  it  should  never  be  drawn  into 

Even  this  concession  was  insufficient.  The  Commons,  not 
content  with  having  forced  their  sovereign  to  annul  the  Indul- 
gence, next  extorted  his  unwilling  consent  to  a  celebrated  law, 
which  continued  in  force  down  to  the  reign  of  George  the 
Fourth.  This  law,  known  as  the  Test  Act,  provided  that  all 
persons  holding  any  office,  civil  or  military,  should  take  the 
oath  of  supremacy,  should  subscribe  a  declaration  against 
transubstantiation,  and  should  publicly  receive  the  sacrament 
according  to  the  rites  of  the  Church  of  England.  The  pre- 
amble expressed  hostility  only  to  the  Papists  :  but  the  enacting 
clauses  were  scarcely  more  unfavourable  to  the  Papists  than  to 
the  most  rigid  class  of  Puritans.  The  Puritans,  however, 
terrified  at  the  evident  leaning  of  the  court  towards  Popery, 
and  encouraged  by  some  churchmen  to  hope  that,  as  soon  as 
the  Roman  Catholics  should  have  been  effectually  disarmed, 


relief  would  be  extended  to  Protestant  Nonconformists,  made 
little  opposition  ;  nor  could  the  King,  who  was  in  extreme  want 
of  money,  venture  to  withhold  his  assent.  The  act  was  passed  ; 
and  the  Duke  of  York  was  consequently  under  the  necessity 
of  resigning  the  great  place  of  Lord  High  Admiral. 

Hitherto  the  Commons  had  not  declared  against  the  Dutch 
war.  But,  when  the  King  had,  in  return  for  money  cautiously 
doled  out,  relinquished  his  whole  plan  of  domestic  policy,  they 
fell  impetuously  on  his  foreign  policy.  They  requested  him  to 
dismiss  Buckingham  and  Lauderdale  from  his  councils  for  ever, 
and  appointed  a  committee  to  consider  the  propriety  of  im- 
peaching Arlington.  In  a  short  time  the  Cabal  was  no  more. 
Clifford,  who,  alone  of  the  five,  had  any  claim  to  be  regarded 
as  an  honest  man,  refused  to  take  the  new  test,  laid  down  his 
white  staff,  and  retired  to  his  country  seat.  Arlington  quitted 
the  post  of  Secretary  of  State  for  a  quiet  and  dignified  employ- 
ment in  the  royal  household.  Shaftesbury  and  Buckingham 
made  their  peace  with  the  opposition,  and  appeared  at  the 
head  of  the  stormy  democracy  of  the  city.  Lauderdale,  how- 
ever, still  continued  to  be  minister  for  Scotch  affairs,  with 
which  the  English  Parliament  could  not  interfere. 

And  now  the  Commons  urged  the  King  to  make  peace  with 
Holland,  and  expressly  declared  that  no  more  supplies  should 
be  granted  for  the  war,  unless  it  should  appear  that  the  enemy 
obstinately  refused  to  consent  to  reasonable  terms.  Charles 
found  it  necessary  to  postpone  to  a  more  convenient  season  all 
thought  of  executing  the  treaty  of  Dover,  and  to  cajole  the 
nation  by  pretending  to  return  to  the  policy  of  the  Triple 
Alliance.  Temple,  who,  during  the  ascendency  of  the  Cabal, 
had  lived  in  seclusion  among  his  books  and  flower  beds,  was 
called  forth  from  his  hermitage.  By  his  instrumentality  a 
separate  peace  was  concluded  with  the  United  Provinces ;  and 
he  again  became  ambassador  at  the  Hague,  where  his  presence 
was  regarded  as  a  sure  pledge  for  the  sincerity  of  his  court. 

The  chief  direction  of  affairs  was  now  entrusted  to  Sir 
Thomas  Osborn,  a  Yorkshire  baronet,  who  had,  in  the  House 
of  Commons,  shown  eminent  talents  for  business  and  debate. 
Osborn  became  Lord  Treasurer,  and  was  soon  created  Earl 
of  Danby.  He  was  not  a  man  whose  character,  if  tried  by 
any  high  standard  of  morality,  would  appear  to  merit  appro- 
bation. He  was  greedy  of  wealth  and  honours,  corrupt  him- 
self, and  a  corrupter  of  others.  The  Cabal  had  bequeathed  to 
him  the  art  of  bribing  Parliaments,  an  art  still  rude,  and  giving 
little  promise  of  the  rare  perfection  to  which  it  was  brought  in 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 69 

the  following  century.  He  improved  greatly  on  the  plan  of  the 
first  inventors.  They  had  merely  purchased  orators :  but 
every  man  who  had  a  vote,  might  sell  himself  to  Danby.  Yet 
the  new  minister  must  not  be  confounded  with  the  negotiators 
of  Dover.  He  was  not  without  the  feelings  of  an  Englishman 
and  a  Protestant ;  nor  did  he,  in  his  solicitude  for  his  own 
interests,  ever  wholly  forget  the  interests  of  his  country  and  of 
his  religion.  He  was  desirous,  indeed,  to  exalt  the  prerogative  : 
but  the  means  by  which  he  proposed  to  exalt  it  were  widely 
different  from  those  which  had  been  contemplated  by  Arlington 
and  Clifford.  The  thought  of  establishing  arbitrary  power,  by 
calling  in  the  aid  of  foreign  arms,  and  by  reducing  the  kingdom 
to  the  rank  of  a  dependent  principality,  never  entered  into  his 
mind.  His  plan  was  to  rally  round  the  monarchy  those  classes 
which  had  been  the  firm  allies  of  the  monarchy  during  the 
troubles  of  the  preceding  generation,  and  which  had  been 
disgusted  by  the  recent  crimes  and  errors  of  the  court.  With 
the  help  of  the  old  Cavalier  interest,  of  the  nobles,  of  the 
country  gentlemen,  of  the  clergy,  and  of  the  Universities,  it 
might,  he  conceived,  be  possible  to  make  Charles,  not  indeed 
an  absolute  sovereign,  but  a  sovereign  scarcely  less  powerful 
than  Elizabeth  had  been. 

Prompted  by  these  feelings,  Danby  formed  the  design  of 
securing  to  the  Cavalier  party  the  exclusive  possession  of  all 
political  power,  both  executive  and  legislative.  In  the  year 
1675,  accordingly,  a  bill  was  offered  to  the  Lords  which 
provided  that  no  person  should  hold  any  office,  or  should  sit  in 
either  House  of  Parliament,  without  first  declaring  on  oath  that 
he  considered  resistance  to  the  kingly  power  as  in  all  cases 
criminal,  and  that  he  would  never  endeavour  to  alter  the 
government  either  in  Church  or  State.  During  several  weeks 
the  debates,  divisions,  and  protests  caused  by  this  proposition 
kept  the  country  in  a  state  of  excitement.  The  opposition  in 
the  House  of  Lords,  headed  by  two  members  of  the  Cabal  who 
were  desirous  to  make  their  peace  with  the  nation,  Buckingham 
and  Shaftesbury,  was  beyond  all  precedent  vehement  and 
pertinacious,  and  at  length  proved  successful.  The  bill  was  not 
indeed  rejected,  but  was  retarded,  mutilated,  and  at  length 
suffered  to  drop. 

So  arbitrary  and  so  exclusive  was  Danby's  scheme  of  domestic 
policy.  His  opinions  touching  foreign  policy  did  him  more 
honour.  They  were  in  truth  directly  opposed  to  those  of  the 
Cabal,  and  differed  little  from  those  of  the  Country  Party.  He 
bitterly  lamented  the  degraded  situation  to  which  England  was 


reduced,  and  declared,  with  more  energy  than  politeness,  that 
his  dearest  wish  was  to  cudgel  the  French  into  a  proper  respect 
for  her.  So  little  did  he  disguise  his  feelings,  that,  at  a  great 
banquet  where  the  most  illustrious  dignitaries  of  the  State  and 
of  the  Church  were  assembled,  he  not  very  decorously  filled  his 
glass  to  the  confusion  of  all  who  were  against  a  war  with  France. 
He  would  indeed  most  gladly  have  seen  his  country  united 
with  the  powers  which  were  then  combined  against  Lewis,  and 
was  for  that  end  bent  on  placing  Temple,  the  author  of  the 
Triple  Alliance,  at  the  head  of  the  department  which  directed 
foreign  affairs.  But  the  power  of  the  prime  minister  was  limited. 
In  his  most  confidential  letters  he  complained  that  the  infatua- 
tion of  his  master  prevented  England  from  taking  her  proper 
place  among  European  nations.  Charles  was  insatiably  greedy 
of  French  gold  :  he  had  by  no  means  relinquished  the  hope 
that  he  might,  at  some  future  day,  be  able  to  establish  absolute 
monarchy  by  the  help  of  the  French  arms ;  and  for  both  reasons 
he  wished  to  maintain  a  good  understanding  with  the  Court  of 

Thus  the  sovereign  leaned  towards  one  system  of  foreign 
politics,  and  the  minister  towards  a  system  diametrically 
opposite.  Neither  the  sovereign  nor  the  minister,  indeed,  was 
of  a  temper  to  pursue  any  object  with  undeviating  constancy. 
Each  occasionally  yielded  to  the  importunity  of  the  other  ;  and 
their  jarring  inclinations  and  mutual  concessions  gave  to  the 
whole  administration  a  strangely  capricious  character.  Charles 
sometimes,  from  levity  and  indolence,  suffered  Danby  to  take 
steps  which  Lewis  resented  as  mortal  injuries.  Danby,  on  the 
other  hand,  rather  than  relinquish  his  great  place,  sometimes 
stooped  to  compliances  which  caused  him  bitter  pain  and 
shame.  The  King  was  brought  to  consent  to  a  marriage 
between  the  Lady  Mary,  eldest  daughter  and  presumptive 
heiress  of  the  Duke  of  York,  and  William  of  Orange,  the  deadly 
enemy  of  France,  and  the  hereditary  champion  of  the  Reforma- 
tion. Nay,  the  brave  Earl  of  Ossory,  son  of  Ormond,  was  sent 
to  assist  the  Dutch  with  some  British  troops,  who,  on  the  most 
bloody  day  of  the  whole  war,  signally  vindicated  the  national 
reputation  for  stubborn  courage.  The  Treasurer,  on  the  other 
hand,  was  induced,  not  only  to  connive  at  some  scandalous 
pecuniary  transactions  which  took  place  between  his  master 
and  the  court  of  Versailles,  but  to  become,  unwillingly  indeed 
and  ungraciously,  an  agent  in  those  transactions. 

Meanwhile,  the  Country  Party  was  driven  by  two  strong 
feelings  in  two  opposite  directions.     The  popular  leaders  were 


afraid  of  the  greatness  of  Lewis,  who  was  not  only  making  head 
against  the  whole  strength  of  the  continental  alliance,  but  was 
even  gaining  ground.  Yet  they  were  afraid  to  entrust  their  own 
King  with  the  means  of  curbing  France,  lest  those  means  should 
be  used  to  destroy  the  liberties  of  England.  The  conflict 
between  these  apprehensions,  both  of  which  were  perfectly 
legitimate,  made  the  policy  of  the  Opposition  seem  as  eccentric 
and  fickle  as  that  of  the  Court.  The  Commons  called  for  a 
war  with  France,  till  the  King,  pressed  by  Danby  to  comply 
with  their  wish,  seemed  disposed  to  yield,  and  began  to  raise 
an  army.  But,  as  soon  as  they  saw  that  the  recruiting  had 
commenced,  their  dread  of  Lewis  gave  place  to  a  nearer  dread. 
They  began  to  fear  that  the  new  levies  might  be  employed  on 
a  service  in  which  Charles  took  much  more  interest  than  in  the 
defence  of  Flanders.  They  therefore  refused  supplies,  and 
clamoured  for  disbanding  as  loudly  as  they  had  just  before 
clamoured  for  arming.  Those  historians  who  have  severely 
reprehended  this  inconsistency  do  not  appear  to  have  made 
sufficient  allowance  for  the  embarrassing  situation  of  subjects 
who  have  reason  to  believe  that  their  prince  is  conspiring  with 
a  foreign  and  hostile  power  against  their  liberties.  To  refuse 
him  military  resources  is  to  leave  the  state  defenceless.  Yet 
to  give  him  military  resources  may  be  only  to  arm  him  against 
the  state.  In  such  circumstances  vacillation  cannot  be 
considered  as  a  proof  of  dishonesty  or  even  of  weakness. 

These  jealousies  were  studiously  fomented  by  the  French 
King.  He  had  long  kept  England  passive  by  promising  to 
support  the  throne  against  the  Parliament.  He  now,  alarmed 
at  finding  that  the  patriotic  counsels  of  Danby  seemed  likely 
to  prevail  in  the  closet,  began  to  inflame  the  Parliament  against 
the  throne.  Between  Lewis  and  the  Country  Party  there  was 
one  thing,  and  one  only,  in  common,  profound  distrust  of 
Charles.  Could  the  Country  Party  have  been  certain  that 
their  sovereign  meant  only  to  make  war  on  France,  they  would 
have  been  eager  to  support  him.  Could  Lewis  have  been 
certain  that  the  new  levies  were  intended  only  to  make  war  on 
the  constitution  of  England,  he  would  have  made  no  attempt 
to  stop  them.  But  the  unsteadiness  and  faithlessness  of 
Charles  were  such  that  the  French  government  and  the  English 
opposition,  agreeing  in  nothing  else,  agreed  in  disbelieving  his 
protestations,  and  were  equally  desirous  to  keep  him  poor  and 
without  an  army.  Communications  were  opened  between 
Barillon,  the  Ambassador  of  Lewis,  and  those  English 
politicians  who  had  always  professed,  and  who  indeed  sincerely 


felt,  the  greatest  dread  and  dislike  of  the  French  ascendency. 
The  most  upright  member  of  the  Country  Party,  William  Lord 
Russell,  son  of  the  Earl  of  Bedford,  did  not  scruple  to  concert 
with  a  foreign  mission  schemes  for  embarrassing  his  own 
sovereign.  This  was  the  whole  extent  of  Russell's  offence.  His 
principles  and  his  fortune  alike  raised  him  above  all  temptations 
of  a  sordid  kind  :  but  there  is  too  much  reason  to  believe  that 
some  of  his  associates  were  less  scrupulous.  It  would  be 
unjust  to  impute  to  them  the  extreme  wickedness  of  taking 
bribes  to  injure  their  country.  On  the  contrary,  they  meant  to 
serve  her  :  but  it  is  impossible  to  deny  that  they  were  mean  and 
indelicate  enough  to  let  a  foreign  prince  pay  them  for  serving 
her.  Among  those  who  cannot  be  acquitted  of  this  degrading 
charge  was  one  man  who  is  popularly  considered  as  the 
personification  of  public  spirit,  and  who,  in  spite  of  some  great 
moral  and  intellectual  faults,  has  a  just  claim  to  be  called  a 
hero,  a  philosopher,  and  a  patriot.  It  is  impossible  to  see 
without  pain  such  a  name  in  the  list  of  the  pensioners  of 
France.  Yet  it  is  some  consolation  to  reflect  that,  in  our  time, 
a  public  man  would  be  thought  lost  to  all  sense  of  duty  and  of 
shame,  who  should  not  spurn  from  him  a  temptation  which 
conquered  the  virtue  and  the  pride  of  Algernon  Sidney. 

The  effect  of  these  intrigues  was  that  England,  though  she 
occasionally  took  a  menacing  attitude,  remained  inactive  till 
the  continental  war,  having  lasted  near  seven  years,  was  ter- 
minated, in  1678,  by  the  treaty  of  Nimeguen.  The  United 
Provinces,  which  in  1672  had  seemed  to  be  on  the  verge  of 
utter  ruin,  obtained  honourable  and  advantageous  terms. 
This  narrow  escape  was  generally  ascribed  to  the  ability  and 
courage  of  the  young  Stadtholder.  His  fame  was  great 
throughout  Europe,  and  especially  among  the  English,  who 
regarded  him  as  one  of  their  own  princes,  and  rejoiced  to  see 
him  the  husband  of  their  future  Queen.  France  retained 
many  important  towns  in  the  Low  Countries  and  the  great 
province  of  Franche  Comte.  Almost  the  whole  loss  was 
borne  by  the  decaying  monarchy  of  Spain. 

A  few  months  after  the  termination  of  hostilities  on  the 
continent  came  a  great  crisis  in  English  politics.  Towards 
such  a  crisis  things  had  been  tending  during  eighteen  years. 
The  whole  stock  of  popularity,  great  as  it  was,  with  which 
the  King  had  commenced  his  administration,  had  long  been 
expended.  To  loyal  enthusiasm  had  succeeded  profound  dis- 
affection. The  public  mind  had  now  measured  back  again 
the  space  over  which  it  had  passed  between  1640  and  1660, 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 73 

and  was  once  more  in  the  state  in  which  it  had  been  when 
the  Long  Parhament  met. 

The  prevaihng  discontent  was  compounded  of  many  feel- 
ings. One  of  these  was  wounded  national  pride.  That 
generation  had  seen  England,  during  a  few  years,  allied  on 
equal  terms  with  France,  victorious  over  Holland  and  Spain, 
the  mistress  of  the  sea,  the  terror  of  Rome,  the  head  of  the 
Protestant  interest.  Her  resources  had  not  diminished  ;  and 
it  might  have  been  expected  that  she  would  have  been  at  least 
as  highly  considered  in  Europe  under  a  legitimate  King, 
strong  in  the  affection  and  willing  obedience  of  his  subjects, 
as  she  had  been  under  an  usurper  whose  utmost  vigilance  and 
energy  were  required  to  keep  down  a  mutinous  people.  Yet 
she  had,  in  consequence  of  the  imbecility  and  meanness  of 
her  rulers,  sunk  so  low  that  any  German  or  Italian  princi- 
pality which  brought  five  thousand  men  into  the  field  was  a 
more  important  member  of  the  commonwealth  of  nations. 

With  the  sense  of  national  humiliation  was  mingled  anxiety 
for  civil  liberty.  Rumours,  indistinct  indeed,  but  perhaps  the 
more  alarming  by  reason  of  their  indistinctness,  imputed  to  the 
court  a  deliberate  design  against  all  the  constitutional  rights  of 
Englishmen.  It  had  even  been  whispered  that  this  design  was 
to  be  carried  into  effect  by  the  intervention  of  foreign  arms. 
The  thought  of  such  intervention  made  the  blood,  even  of  the 
Cavaliers,  boil  in  their  veins.  Some  who  had  always  professed 
the  doctrine  of  non-resistance  in  its  full  extent  were  now  heard 
to  mutter  that  there  was  one  limitation  to  that  doctrine.  If  a 
foreign  force  were  brought  over  to  coerce  the  nation,  they 
would  not  answer  for  their  own  patience. 

But  neither  national  pride  nor  anxiety  for  public  liberty  had 
so  great  an  influence  on  the  popular  mind  as  hatred  of  the 
Roman  Cathofic  religion.  That  hatred  had  become  one  of  the 
ruling  passions  of  the  community,  and  was  as  strong  in  the 
ignorant  and  profane  as  in  those  who  were  Protestants  from 
conviction.  The  cruelties  of  Mary's  reign,  cruelties  which 
even  in  the  most  accurate  and  sober  narrative  excite  just 
detestation,  and  which  were  neither  accurately  nor  soberly 
related  in  the  popular  martyrologies,  the  conspiracies  against 
Elizabeth,  and  above  all  the  Gunpowder  Plot,  had  left  in  the 
minds  of  the  vulgar  a  deep  and  bitter  feeling  which  was  kept 
up  by  annual  commemorations,  prayers,  bonfires,  and  proces- 
sions. It  should  be  added  that  those  classes  which  were 
peculiarly  distinguished  by  attachment  to  the  throne,  the  clergy 
and  the  landed  gentry,  had  peculiar  reasons  for  regarding  the 


Church  of  Rome  with  aversion.  The  clergy  trembled  for  their 
benefices ;  the  landed  gentry  for  their  abbeys  and  great  tithes. 
While  the  memory  of  the  reign  of  the  Saints  was  still  recent, 
hatred  of  Popery  had  in  some  degree  given  place  to  hatred  of 
Puritanism  :  but,  during  the  eighteen  years  which  had  elapsed 
since  the  Restoration,  the  hatred  of  Puritanism  had  abated, 
and  the  hatred  of  Popery  had  increased.  The  stipulations  of 
the  treaty  of  Dover  were  accurately  known  to  very  few :  but 
some  hints  had  got  abroad.  The  general  impression  was  that 
a  great  blow  was  about  to  be  aimed  at  the  Protestant  religion. 
The  king  was  suspected  by  many  of  a  leaning  towards  Rome. 
His  brother  and  heir  presumptive  was  known  to  be  a  bigoted 
Roman  Catholic.  The  first  Duchess  of  York  had  died  a 
Roman  Catholic.  James  had  then,  in  defiance  of  the 
remonstrances  of  the  House  of  Commons,  taken  to  wife  the 
Princess  Mary  of  Modena,  another  Roman  Catholic.  If  there 
should  be  sons  by  this  marriage,  there  was  reason  to  fear  that 
they  might  be  bred  Roman  Catholics,  and  that  a  long 
succession  of  princes,  hostile  to  the  established  faith,  might  sit 
on  the  English  throne.  The  constitution  had  recently  been 
violated  for  the  purpose  of  protecting  the  Roman  Catholics 
from  the  penal  laws.  The  ally  by  whom  the  policy  of  England 
had,  during  many  years,  been  chiefly  governed  was  not  only  a 
Roman  CathoHc,  but  a  persecutor  of  the  reformed  Churches. 
Under  such  circumstances  it  is  not  strange  that  the  common 
people  should  have  been  inclined  to  apprehend  a  return  of  the 
times  of  her  whom  they  called  Bloody  Mary. 

Thus  the  nation  was  in  such  a  temper  that  the  smallest  spark 
might  raise  a  flame.  At  this  conjuncture  fire  was  set  in  two 
places  at  once  to  the  vast  mass  of  combustible  matter ;  and  in 
a  moment  the  whole  was  in  a  blaze. 

The  French  court,  which  knew  Danby  to  be  its  mortal 
enemy,  artfully  contrived  to  ruin  him  by  making  him  pass  for 
its  friend.  Lewis,  by  the  instrumentality  of  Ralph  Montague, 
a  faithless  and  shameless  man  who  had  resided  in  France  as 
minister  from  England,  laid  before  the  House  of  Commons 
proofs  that  the  Treasurer  had  been  concerned  in  an  application 
made  by  the  court  of  Whitehall  to  the  court  of  Versailles  for 
a  sum  of  money.  This  discovery  produced  its  natural  effect. 
The  Treasurer  was,  in  truth,  exposed  to  the  vengeance  of 
Parliament,  not  on  account  of  his  delinquencies,  but  on  account 
of  his  merits  ;  not  because  he  had  been  an  accomplice  in  a 
criminal  transaction,  but  because  he  had  been  a  most  unwilling 
and   unserviceable   accomplice.     But    of    the   circumstances. 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 75 

which  have,  in  the  judgment  of  posterity,  greatly  extenuated 
his  fault,  his  contemporaries  were  ignorant.  In  their  view  he 
was  the  broker  who  had  sold  England  to  France.  It  seemed 
clear  that  his  greatness  was  at  an  end,  and  doubtful  whether 
his  head  could  be  saved. 

Yet  was  the  ferment  excited  by  this  discovery  slight,  when 
compared  with  the  commotion  which  arose  when  it  was  noised 
abroad  that  a  great  Popish  plot  had  been  detected.  One  Titus 
Oates,  a  clergyman  of  the  Church  of  England,  had,  by  his 
disorderly  life  and  heterodox  doctrine,  drawn  on  himself  the 
censure  of  his  spiritual  superiors,  had  been  compelled  to  quit 
his  benefice,  and  had  ever  since  led  an  infamous  and  vagrant 
life.  He  had  once  professed  himself  a  Roman  Catholic,  and 
had  passed  some  time  on  the  Continent  in  English  colleges  of 
the  order  of  Jesus.  In  those  seminaries  he  had  heard  much 
wild  talk  about  the  best  means  of  bringing  England  back  to 
the  true  Church.  From  hints  thus  furnished  he  constructed  a 
hideous  romance,  resembling  rather  the  dream  of  a  sick  man 
than  any  transaction  which  ever  took  place  in  the  real  world. 
The  Pope,  he  said,  had  entrusted  the  government  of  England 
to  the  Jesuits.  The  Jesuits  had,  by  commissions  under  the 
seal  of  their  society,  appointed  Catholic  clergymen,  noblemen, 
and  gentlemen,  to  all  the  highest  offices  in  Church  and  State. 
The  Papists  had  burned  down  London  once.  They  had  tried 
to  burn  it  down  again.  They  were  at  that  moment  planning 
a  scheme  for  setting  fire  to  all  the  shipping  in  the  Thames. 
They  were  to  rise  at  a  signal  and  massacre  all  their  Protestant 
neighbours.  A  French  army  was  at  the  same  time  to  land  in 
Ireland.  All  the  leading  statesmen  and  divines  of  England 
were  to  be  murdered.  Three  or  four  schemes  had  been  formed 
for  assassinating  the  King.  He  was  to  be  stabbed.  He  was 
to  be  poisoned  in  his  medicine.  He  was  to  be  shot  with 
silver  bullets.  The  public  mind  was  so  sore  and  excitable 
that  these  lies  readily  found  credit  with  the  vulgar  ;  and  two 
events  which  speedily  took  place  led  even  some  reflecting 
men  to  suspect  that  the  tale,  though  evidently  distorted  and 
exaggerated,  might  have  some  foundation. 

Edward  Coleman,  a  very  busy,  and  not  very  honest,  Roman 
Catholic  intriguer,  had  been  among  the  persons  accused. 
Search  was  made  for  his  papers.  It  was  found  that  he  had 
just  destroyed  the  greater  part  of  them.  But  a  few  which  had 
escaped  contained  some  passages  which,  to  minds  strongly 
prepossessed,  might  seem  to  confirm  the  evidence  of  Oates. 
Those  passages   indeed,  when  candidly  construed,  appear  to 


express  little  more  than  the  hopes  which  the  posture  of  affairs, 
the  predilections  of  Charles,  the  still  stronger  predilections  of 
James,  and  the  relations  existing  between  the  French  and 
English  Courts,  might  naturally  excite  in  the  mind  of  a  Roman 
Catholic  strongly  attached  to  the  interests  of  his  Church.  But 
the  country  was  not  then  inclined  to  construe  the  letters  of 
Papists  candidly ;  and  it  was  urged,  with  some  show  of  reason, 
that,  if  papers  which  had  been  passed  over  as  unimportant 
were  filled  with  matter  so  suspicious,  some  great  mystery  of 
iniquity  must  have  been  contained  in  those  documents  which 
had  been  carefully  committed  to  the  flames. 

A  few  days  later  it  was  known  that  Sir  Edmondsbufy 
Godfrey,  an  eminent  justice  of  the  peace  who  had  taken  the 
depositions  of  Gates  against  Coleman,  had  disappeared.  Search 
was  made ;  and  Godfrey's  corpse  was  found  in  a  field  near 
London.  It  was  clear  that  he  had  died  by  violence.  It  was 
equally  clear  that  he  had  not  been  set  upon  by  robbers.  His 
fate  is  to  this  day  a  secret.  Some  think  that  he  perished  by 
his  own  hand ;  some,  that  he  was  slain  by  a  private  enemy. 
The  most  improbable  supposition  is  that  he  was  murdered  by 
the  party  hostile  to  the  court,  in  order  to  give  colour  to  the 
story  of  the  plot.  The  most  probable  supposition  seems,  on 
the  whole,  to  be  that  some  hot-headed  Roman  Catholic,  driven 
to  frenzy  by  the  lies  of  Gates  and  by  the  insults  of  the  multi- 
tude, and  not  nicely  distinguishing  between  the  perjured 
accuser  and  the  innocent  magistrate,  had  taken  a  revenge  of 
which  the  history  of  persecuted  sects  furnishes  but  too  many 
examples.  If  this  were  so,  the  assassin  must  have  afterwards 
bitterly  execrated  his  own  wickedness  and  folly.  The  capital 
and  the  whole  nation  went  mad  with  hatred  and  fear.  1  he 
penal  laws,  which  had  begun  to  lose  something  of  their  edge, 
were  sharpened  anew.  Everywhere  justices  were  busied  in 
searching  houses  and  seizing  papers.  All  the  gaols  were  filled 
with  Papists.  London  had  the  aspect  of  a  city  in  a  state  of 
siege.  The  trainbands  were  under  arms  all  night.  Prepara- 
tions were  made  for  barricading  the  great  thoroughfares. 
Patroles  marched  up  and  down  the  streets.  Cannon  were 
planted  round  Whitehall.  No  citizen  thought  himself  safe 
unless  he  carried  under  his  coat  a  small  flail  loaded  with  lead 
to  brain  the  Popish  assassins.  The  corpse  of  the  murdered 
magistrate  was  exhibited  during  several  days  to  the  gaze  of 
great  multitudes,  and  was  then  committed  to  the  grave  with 
strange  and  terrible  ceremonies,  which  indicated  rather  fear 
and  the  thirst  of  vengeance  than  sorrow  or  religious   hope. 

THE    REIGN     OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 77 

The  Houses  insisted  that  a  guard  should  be  placed  in  the  vaults 
over  which  they  sate,  in  order  to  secure  them  against  a  second 
Gunpowder  Plot.  All  their  proceedings  were  of  a  piece  with 
this  demand.  Ever  since  the  reign  of  Elizabeth  the  oath  of 
supremacy  had  been  exacted  from  members  of  the  House  of 
Commons.  Some  Roman  Catholics,  however,  had  contrived 
so  to  interpret  this  oath  that  they  could  take  it  without  scruple. 
A  more  stringent  test  was  now  added,  and  the  Roman  Catholic 
Lords  were  for  the  first  time  excluded  from  their  seats  in 
parliament.  Strong  resolutions  were  adopted  against  the 
Queen.  The  Commons  threw  one  of  the  Secretaries  of  State 
into  prison  for  having  countersigned  commissions  directed  to 
gentlemen  who  were  not  good  Protestants.  They  impeached 
the  Lord  Treasurer  of  high  treason.  Nay,  they  so  far  forgot 
the  doctrine  which,  while  the  memory  of  the  civil  war  was  still 
recent,  they  had  loudly  professed,  that  they  even  attempted  to 
wrest  the  command  of  the  militia  out  of  the  King's  hands.  To 
such  a  temper  had  eighteen  years  of  misgovernment  brought 
the  most   loyal  Parliament  that   had  ever   met  in  England. 

Yet  it  may  seem  strange  that,  even  in  that  extremity,  the 
King  should  have  ventured  to  appeal  to  the  people ;  for  the 
people  were  more  excited  than  their  representatives.  The 
Lower  House,  discontented  as  it  was,  contained  a  larger 
number  of  Cavaliers  than  were  likely  to  find  seats  again.  But 
it  was  thought  that  a  dissolution  would  put  a  stop  to  the 
prosecution  of  the  Lord  Treasurer,  a  prosecution  which  might 
probably  bring  to  light  all  the  guilty  mysteries  of  the  French 
alliance,  and  might  thus  cause  extreme  personal  annoyance 
and  embarrassment  to  Charles.  Accordingly,  in  January  1679, 
the  Parliament,  which  had  been  in  existence  ever  since  the 
beginning  of  the  year  1661,  was  dissolved;  and  writs  were 
issued  for  a  general  election. 

During  some  weeks  the  contention  over  the  whole  country 
was  fierce  and  obstinate  beyond  example.  Unprecedented 
sums  were  expended.  New  tactics  were  employed.  It  was 
remarked  by  the  pamphleteers  of  that  time  as  something  extra- 
ordinary that  horses  were  hired  at  a  great  charge  for  the 
conveyance  of  electors.  The  practice  of  splitting  freeholds 
for  the  purpose  of  multiplying  votes  dates  from  this  memorable 
struggle.  Dissenting  preachers,  who  had  long  hidden  them- 
selves in  quiet  nooks  from  persecution,  now  emerged  from 
their  retreats,  and  rode  from  village  to  village,  for  the  purpose 
of  rekindling  the  zeal  of  the  scattered  people  of  God.  The 
tide  ran  strong  against  the  government.      Most  of  the  new 


members  came  up  to  Westminster  in  a  mood  little  differing 
from  that  of  their  predecessors  who  had  sent  Strafford  and 
Laud  to  the  Tower. 

Meanwhile  the  courts  of  justice,  which  ought  to  be,  in  the 
midst  of  political  commotions,  sure  places  of  refuge  for  the 
innocent  of  every  party,  were  disgraced  by  wilder  passions  and 
fouler  corruptions  than  were  to  be  found  even  on  the  hustings. 
The  tale  of  Oates,  though  it  had  sufficed  to  convulse  the  whole 
realm,  would  not,  until  confirmed  by  other  evidence,  suffice  to 
destroy  the  humblest  of  those  whom  he  had  accused.  For,  by 
the  old  law  of  England,  two  witnesses  are  necessary  to  establish 
a  charge  of  treason.  But  the  success  of  the  first  impostor 
produced  its  natural  consequences.  In  a  few  weeks  he  had 
been  raised  from  penury  and  obscurity  to  opulence,  to  power 
which  made  him  the  dread  of  princes  and  nobles,  and  to 
notoriety  such  as  has  for  low  and  bad  minds  all  the  attractions 
of  glory.  He  was  not  long  without  coadjutors  and  rivals.  A 
wretch  named  Carstairs,  who  had  earned  a  living  in  Scotland 
by  going  disguised  to  conventicles  and  then  informing  against 
the  preachers,  led  the  way.  Bedloe,  a  noted  swindler,  followed ; 
and  soon,  from  all  the  brothels,  gambling  houses,  and  spung- 
ing  houses  of  London,  false  witnesses  poured  forth  to  swear 
away  the  lives  of  Roman  Catholics.  One  came  with  a  story 
about  an  army  of  thirty  thousand  men  who  were  to  muster  in 
the  disguise  of  pilgrims  at  Corunna,  and  to  sail  thence  to 
Wales.  Another  had  been  promised  canonization  and  five 
hundred  pounds  to  murder  the  King.  A  third  had  stepped 
into  an  eating  house  in  Covent  Garden  and  had  there  heard  a 
great  Roman  Catholic  banker  vow,  in  the  hearing  of  all  the 
guests  and  drawers,  to  kill  the  heretical  tyrant,  Oates,  that  he 
might  not  be  eclipsed  by  his  imitators,  soon  added  a  large 
supplement  to  his  original  narrative.  He  had  the  portentous 
impudence  to  affirm,  among  other  things,  that  he  had  once 
stood  behind  a  door  which  was  ajar,  and  had  there  overheard 
the  Queen  declare  that  she  had  resolved  to  give  her  consent  to 
the  assassination  of  her  husband.  The  vulgar  befieved,  and 
the  highest  magistrates  pretended  to  believe,  even  such  fictions 
as  these.  The  chief  judges  of  the  realm  were  corrupt,  cruel, 
and  timid.  The  leaders  of  the  Country  Party  encouraged  the 
prevailing  delusion.  The  most  respectable  among  them, 
indeed,  were  themselves  so  far  deluded  as  to  believe  the 
greater  part  of  the  evidence  of  the  plot  to  be  true.  Such  men 
as  Shaftesbury  and  Buckingham  doubtless  perceived  that  the 
whole  was  a  romance.     But  it  was  a  romance  which  served 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 79 

their  turn ;  and  to  their  seared  consciences  the  death  of  an 
innocent  man  gave  no  more  uneasiness  than  the  death  of  a 
partridge.  The  juries  partook  of  the  feehngs  then  common 
throughout  the  nation,  and  were  encouraged  by  the  bench  to 
indulge  those  feelings  without  restraint.  The  multitude  ap- 
plauded Oates  and  his  confederates,  hooted  and  pelted  the 
witnesses  who  appeared  on  behalf  of  the  accused,  and  shouted 
with  joy  when  the  verdict  of  Guilty  was  pronounced.  It  was 
in  vain  that  the  sufferers  appealed  to  the  respectability  of  their 
past  lives  :  for  the  public  mind  was  possessed  with  a  belief  that 
the  more  conscientious  a  Papist  was,  the  more  likely  he  must 
be  to  plot  against  a  Protestant  government.  It  was  in  vain 
that,  just  before  the  cart  passed  from  under  their  feet,  they 
resolutely  affirmed  their  innocence  :  for  the  general  opinion 
was  that  a  good  Papist  considered  all  lies  which  were  serviceable 
to  his  Church  as  not  only  excusable  but  meritorious. 

While  innocent  blood  was  shedding  under  the  forms  of 
justice,  the  new  Parliament  met ;  and  such  was  the  violence  of 
the  predominant  party  that  even  men  whose  youth  had  been 
passed  amidst  revolutions,  men  who  remembered  the  attainder 
of  Strafford,  the  attempt  on  the  five  members,  the  abolition  of 
the  House  of  Lords,  the  execution  of  the  King,  stood  aghast 
at  the  aspect  of  public  affairs.  The  impeachment  of  Danby 
was  resumed.  He  pleaded  the  royal  pardon.  But  the  Com- 
mons treated  the  plea  with  contempt,  and  insisted  that  the 
trial  should  proceed.  Danby,  however,  was  not  their  chief 
object.  They  were  convinced  that  the  only  effectual  way  of 
securing  the  liberties  and  religion  of  the  nation  was  to  exclude 
the  Duke  of  York  from  the  throne. 

The  King  was  in  great  perplexity.  He  had  insisted  that 
his  brother,  the  sight  of  whom  inflamed  the  populace  to 
madness,  should  retire  for  a  time  to  Brussels  :  but  this  con- 
cession did  not  seem  to  have  produced  any  favourable  effect. 
The  Roundhead  party  was  now  decidedly  preponderant. 
Towards  that  party  leaned  millions  who  had,  at  the  time  of 
the  Restoration,  leaned  towards  the  side  of  prerogative.  Of 
the  old  Cavaliers  many  participated  in  the  prevailing  fear  of 
Popery,  and  many,  bitterly  resenting  the  ingratitude  of  the 
prince  for  whom  they  had  sacrificed  so  much,  looked  on  his 
distress  as  carelessly  as  he  had  looked  on  theirs.  Even  the 
Anglican  clergy,  mortified  and  alarmed  by  the  apostasy  of  the 
Duke  of  York,  so  far  countenanced  the  opposition  as  to  join 
cordially  in  the  outcry  against  the  Roman  Catholics. 

The   King  in   this  extremity  had  recourse  to  Sir  William 


Temple.  Of  all  the  official  men  of  that  age  Temple  had 
preserved  the  fairest  character.  The  Triple  Alliance  had  been 
his  work.  He  had  refused  to  take  any  part  in  the  politics  of 
the  Cabal,  and  had,  while  that  administration  directed  affairs, 
lived  in  strict  privacy.  He  had  quitted  his  retreat  at  the  call 
of  Danby,  had  made  peace  between  England  and  Holland, 
and  had  borne  a  chief  part  in  bringing  about  the  marriage  of 
the  Lady  Mary  to  her  cousin  the  Prince  of  Orange.  Thus 
he  had  the  credit  of  every  one  of  the  few  good  things  which 
had  been  done  by  the  government  since  the  Restoration.  Of 
the  numerous  crimes  and  blunders  of  the  last  eighteen  years 
none  could  be  imputed  to  him.  His  private  life,  though 
not  austere,  was  decorous  :  his  manners  were  popular ;  and 
he  was  not  to  be  corrupted  either  by  titles  or  by  money. 
Something,  however,  was  wanting  to  the  character  of  this 
respectable  statesman.  The  temperature  of  his  patriotism  was 
lukewarm.  He  prized  his  ease  and  his  personal  dignity  too 
much,  and  shrank  from  responsibility  with  a  pusillanimous 
fear.  Nor  indeed  had  his  habits  fitted  him  to  bear  a  part  in 
the  conflicts  of  our  domestic  factions.  He  had  reached  his 
fiftieth  year  without  having  sate  in  the  English  Parliament ; 
and  his  official  experience  had  been  almost  entirely  acquired 
at  foreign  courts.  He  was  justly  esteemed  one  of  the  first 
diplomatists  in  Europe  :  but  the  talents  and  accomplishments 
of  a  diplomatist  are  widely  different  from  those  which  qualify 
a  politician  to  lead  the  House  of  Commons  in  agitated  times. 

The  scheme  which  he  proposed  showed  considerable  in- 
genuity. Though  not  a  profound  philosopher,  he  had  thought 
more  than  most  busy  men  of  the  world  on  the  general  prin- 
ciples of  government ;  and  his  mind  had  been  enlarged  by 
historical  studies  and  foreign  travel.  He  seems  to  have 
discerned  more  clearly  than  most  of  his  contemporaries  one 
cause  of  the  difficulties  by  which  the  government  was  beset. 
The  character  of  the  English  polity  was  gradually  changing. 
The  Parliament  was  slowly,  but  constantly,  gaining  ground  on 
the  prerogative.  The  line  between  the  legislative  and  executive 
powers  was  in  theory  as  strongly  marked  as  ever,  but  in 
practice  was  daily  becoming  fainter  and  fainter.  The  theory 
of  the  constitution  was  that  the  King  might  name  his  own 
ministers.  But  the  Hoxise  of  Commons  had  driven  Clarendon, 
the  Cabal,  and  Danby  successively  from  the  direction  of  affairs. 
The  theory  of  the  constitution  was  that  the  King  alone  had  the 
power  of  making  peace  and  war.  But  the  House  of  Commons 
had  forced  him  to  make  peace  with  Holland,  and  had  all  but 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  l8l 

forced  him  to  make  war  with  France.  The  theory  of  the 
constitution  was  that  the  King  was  the  sole  judge  of  the 
cases  in  which  it  might  be  proper  to  pardon  offenders.  Yet 
he  was  so  much  in  dread  of  the  House  of  Commons  that, 
at  that  moment,  he  could  not  venture  to  rescue  from  the 
gallows  men  whom  he  well  knew  to  be  the  innocent  victims 
of  perjury. 

Temple,  it  should  seem,  was  desirous  to  secure  to  the 
legislature  its  undoubted  constitutional  powers,  and  yet  to 
prevent  it,  if  possible,  from  encroaching  further  on  the 
province  of  the  executive  administration.  With  this  view  he 
determined  to  interpose  between  the  sovereign  and  the  Parlia- 
ment a  body  which  might  break  the  shock  of  their  collision. 
There  was  a  body,  ancient,  highly  honourable,  and  recognised 
by  the  law,  which,  he  thought,  might  be  so  remodelled  as 
to  serve  this  purpose.  He  determined  to  give  to  the  Privy 
Council  a  new  character  and  office  in  the  government.  The 
number  of  Councillors  he  fixed  at  thirty.  Fifteen  of  them 
were  to  be  the  chief  ministers  of  state,  of  law,  and  of  religion. 
The  other  fifteen  were  to  be  unplaced  noblemen  and  gentle- 
men of  ample  fortune  and  high  character.  There  was  to  be 
no  interior  cabinet.  All  the  thirty  were  to  be  entrusted  with 
every  political  secret,  and  summoned  to  every  meeting;  and 
the  King  was  to  declare  that  he  would,  on  every  occasion,  be 
guided  by  their  advice. 

Temple  seems  to  have  thought  that,  by  this  contrivance,  he 
could  at  once  secure  the  nation  against  the  tyranny  of  the 
crown,  and  the  crown  against  the  encroachments  of  the  Parlia- 
ment. It  was,  on  one  hand,  highly  improbable  that  schemes 
such  as  had  been  formed  by  the  Cabal  would  be  even  pro- 
pounded for  discussion  in  an  assembly  consisting  of  thirty 
eminent  men,  fifteen  of  whom  were  bound  by  no  tie  of  interest 
to  the  court.  On  the  other  hand,  it  might  be  hoped  that  the 
Commons,  content  with  the  guarantee  against  misgovernment 
which  such  a  Privy  Council  furnished,  would  confine  themselves 
more  than  they  had  of  late  done  to  their  strictly  legislative 
functions,  and  would  no  longer  think  it  necessary  to  pry  into 
every  part  of  the  executive  administration. 

This  plan,  though  in  some  respects  not  unworthy  of  the 
abilities  of  its  author,  was  in  principle  vicious.  The  new  board 
was  half  a  cabinet  and  half  a  Parliament,  and,  like  almost 
every  other  contrivance,  whether  mechanical  or  political,  which 
is  meant  to  serve  two  purposes  altogether  different,  failed  of 
accomplishing  either.     It  was  too  large  and  too  divided  to  be 


a  good  administrative  body.  It  was  too  closely  connected  with 
the  crown  to  be  a  good  checking  body.  It  contained  just 
enough  of  popular  ingredients  to  make  it  a  bad  council  of 
state,  unfit  for  the  keeping  of  secrets,  for  the  conducting  of 
delicate  negotiations,  and  for  the  administration  of  war.  Yet 
were  these  popular  ingredients  by  no  means  sufficient  to  secure 
the  nation  against  misgovernment.  The  plan,  therefore,  even 
if  it  had  been  fairly  tried,  could  scarcely  have  succeeded ;  and 
it  was  not  fairly  tried.  The  King  was  fickle  and  perfidious  : 
the  Parliament  was  excited  and  unreasonable ;  and  the  materials 
out  of  which  the  new  Council  was  made,  though  perhaps  the 
best  which  that  age  afforded,  were  still  bad. 

The  commencement  of  the  new  system  was,  however,  hailed 
with  general  delight ;  for  the  people  were  in  a  temper  to  think 
any  change  an  improvement.  They  were  also  pleased  by  some 
of  the  new  nominations.  Shaftesbury,  now  their  favourite, 
was  appointed  Lord  President.  Russell  and  some  other  dis- 
tinguished members  of  the  Country  Party  were  sworn  of  the 
Council.  But  in  a  few  days  all  was  again  in  confusion.  The 
inconveniences  of  having  so  numerous  a  cabinet  were  such  that 
Temple  himself  consented  to  infringe  one  of  the  fundamental 
rules  which  he  had  laid  down,  and  to  become  one  of  a  small 
knot  which  really  directed  everything.  With  him  were  joined 
three  other  ministers,  Arthur  Capel,  Earl  of  Essex,  George 
Savile,  Viscount  Halifax,  and  Robert  Spencer,  Earl  of  Sunder- 

Of  the  Earl  of  Essex,  then  First  Commissioner  of  the 
Treasury,  it  is  sufficient  to  say  that  he  was  a  man  of  solid, 
though  not  brilliant  parts,  and  of  grave  and  melancholy 
character,  that  he  had  been  connected  with  the  Country  Party, 
and  that  he  was  at  this  time  honestly  desirous  to  effect,  on 
terms  beneficial  to  the  State,  a  reconciliation  between  that  party 
and  the  throne. 

Among  the  statesmen  of  that  age  Halifax  was,  in  genius,  the 
first.  His  intellect  was  fertile,  subtle,  and  capacious.  His 
polished,  luminous,  and  animated  eloquence,  set  off  by  the 
silver  tones  of  his  voice,  was  the  delight  of  the  House  of  Lords. 
His  conversation  overflowed  with  thought,  fancy,  and  wit.  His 
political  tracts  well  deserve  to  be  studied  for  their  literary 
merit,  and  fully  entitle  him  to  a  place  among  English  classics. 
To  the  weight  derived  from  talents  so  great  and  various  he 
united  all  the  influence  which  belongs  to  rank  and  ample 
possessions.  Yet  he  was  less  successful  in  politics  than  many 
who  enjoyed   smaller  advantages.     Indeed,  those  intellectual 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 83 

peculiarities  which  make  his  writings  valuable  frequently 
impeded  him  in  the  contests  of  active  life.  For  he  always  saw 
passing  events,  not  in  the  point  of  view  in  which  they  commonly 
appear  to  one  who  bears  a  part  in  them,  but  in  the  point  of 
view  in  which,  after  the  lapse  of  many  years,  they  appear  to 
the  philosophic  historian.  With  such  a  turn  of  mind,  he 
could  not  long  continue  to  act  cordially  with  any  body  of  men. 
All  the  prejudices,  all  the  exaggerations  of  both  the  great 
parties  in  the  State  moved  his  scorn.  He  despised  the  mean 
arts  and  unreasonable  clamours  of  demagogues.  He  despised 
still  more  the  doctrines  of  divine  right  and  passive  obedience. 
He  sneered  impartially  at  the  bigotry  of  the  Churchman  and 
at  the  bigotry  of  the  Puritan.  He  was  equally  unable  to 
comprehend  how  any  man  should  object  to  Saints'  days  and 
surplices,  and  how  any  man  should  persecute  any  other  man 
for  objecting  to  them.  In  temper  he  was  what,  in  our  time,  is 
called  a  Conservative.  In  theory  he  was  a  Republican.  Even 
when  his  dread  of  anarchy  and  his  disdain  for  vulgar  delusions 
led  him  to  side  for  a  time  with  the  defenders  of  arbitrary 
power,  his  intellect  was  always  with  Locke  and  Milton. 
Indeed,  his  jests  upon  hereditary  monarchy  were  sometimes 
such  as  would  have  better  become  a  member  of  the  Calfs 
Head  Club  than  a  Privy  Councillor  of  the  Stuarts.  In  religion 
he  was  so  far  from  being  a  zealot  that  he  was  called  by  the 
uncharitable  an  atheist :  but  this  imputation  he  vehemently 
repelled ;  and  in  truth,  though  he  sometimes  gave  scandal 
by  the  way  in  which  he  exerted  his  rare  powers  both  of 
argumentation  and  of  ridicule  on  serious  subjects,  he  seems 
to  have  been  by  no  means  unsusceptible  of  religious 

He  was  the  chief  of  those  politicians  whom  the  two  great 
parties  contemptuously  called  Trimmers.  Instead  of  quarrel- 
ling with  this  nickname,  he  assumed  it  as  a  title  of  honour, 
and  vindicated,  with  great  vivacity,  the  dignity  of  the  appella- 
tion. Every  thing  good,  he  said,  trims  between  extremes. 
The  temperate  zone  trims  between  the  climate  in  which  men 
are  roasted  and  the  climate  in  which  they  are  frozen.  The 
English  Church  trims  between  the  Anabaptist  madness  and 
the  Papist  lethargy.  The  English  constitution  trims  between 
Turkish  despotism  and  Polish  anarchy.  Virtue  is  nothing  but 
a  just  temper  between  propensities  any  one  of  which,  if 
indulged  to  excess,  becomes  vice.  Nay,  the  perfection  of  the 
Supreme  Being  himself  consists  in  the  exact  equilibrium  of 
attributes,  none  of  which  could  preponderate  without  disturbing 



the  whole  moral  and  physical  order  of  the  world.*  Thus 
Halifax  was  a  Trimmer  on  principle.  He  was  also  a  Trimmer 
by  the  constitution  both  of  his  head  and  of  his  heart.  His 
understanding  was  keen,  sceptical,  inexhaustibly  fertile  in 
distinctions  and  objections  ;  his  taste  refined  ;  his  sense  of  the 
ludicrous  exquisite ;  his  temper  placid  and  forgiving,  but 
fastidious,  and  by  no  means  prone  either  to  malevolence  or  to 
enthusiastic  admiration.  Such  a  man  could  not  long  be 
constant  to  any  band  of  political  allies.  He  must  not,  how- 
ever, be  confounded  with  the  vulgar  crowd  of  renegades.  For 
though,  like  them,  he  passed  from  side  to  side,  his  transition 
was  always  in  the  direction  opposite  to  theirs.  He  had  nothing 
in  common  with  those  who  fly  from  extreme  to  extreme,  and 
who  regard  the  party  which  they  have  deserted  with  an 
animosity  far  exceeding  that  of  consistent  enemies.  His  place 
was  between  the  hostile  divisions  of  the  community,  and  he 
never  wandered  far  beyond  the  frontier  of  either.  The  party 
to  which  he  at  any  moment  belonged  was  the  party  which,  at 
that  moment,  he  liked  least,  because  it  was  the  party  of  which 
at  that  moment  he  had  the  nearest  view.  He  was  therefore 
always  severe  upon  his  violent  associates,  and  was  always  in 
friendly  relations  with  his  moderate  opponents.  Every  faction 
in  the  day  of  its  insolent  and  vindictive  triumph  incurred  his 
censure ;  and  every  faction,  when  vanquished  and  persecuted, 
found  in  him  a  protector.  To  his  lasting  honour  it  must  be 
mentioned  that  he  attempted  to  save  those  victims  whose  fate 
has  left  the  deepest  stain  both  on  the  Whig  and  on  the  Tory 

He  had  greatly  distinguished  himself  in  opposition,  and  had 
thus  drawn  on  himself  the  royal  displeasure,  which  was  indeed 
so  strong,  that  he  was  not  admitted  into  the  Council  of  Thirty 
without  much  difficulty  and  long  altercation.  As  soon,  how- 
ever, as  he  had  obtained  a  footing  at  court,  the  charms  of  his 
manner  and  of  his  conversation  made  him  a  favourite.  He 
was  seriously  alarmed  by  the  violence  of  the  public  discontent. 
He  thought  that  liberty  was  for  the  present  safe,  and  that 
order  and  legitimate  authority  were  in  danger.  He  therefore, 
as  was  his  fashion,  joined  himself  to  the  weaker  side.  Perhaps 
his  conversion  was  not  wholly  disinterested.  For  study  and 
reflection,  though  they  had  emancipated  him  from  many 
vulgar   prejudices,    had   left   him   a   slave   to   vulgar  desires. 

*  It  will  be  seen  that  I  believe  Halifax  to  have  been  the  author,  or  at 
least  one  of  the  authors,  of  the  "Character  of  a  Trimmer,"  which,  for  a 
time,  went  under  the  name  of  his  kinsman,  Sir  William  Coventry. 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  I  85 

Money  he  did  not  want ;  and  there  is  no  evidence  that  he 
ever  obtained  it  by  any  means  which,  in  that  age,  even  severe 
censors  considered  as  dishonourable  ;  but  rank  and  power  had 
strong  attractions  for  him.  He  pretended,  indeed,  that  he 
considered  titles  and  great  offices  as  baits  which  could  allure 
none  but  fools,  that  he  hated  business,  pomp,  and  pageantry, 
and  that  his  dearest  wish  was  to  escape  from  the  bustle  and 
glitter  of  Whitehall  to  the  quiet  woods  which  surrounded  his 
ancient  mansion  at  Rufford  :  but  his  conduct  was  not  a  little 
at  variance  with  his  professions.  In  truth  he  wished  to  com- 
mand the  respect  at  once  of  courtiers  and  of  philosophers,  to 
be  admired  for  attaining  high  dignities,  and  to  be  at  the  same 
time  admired  for  despising  them. 

Sunderland  was  Secretary  of  State.  In  this  man  the  political 
immorahty  of  his  age  was  personified  in  the  most  lively  manner. 
Nature  had  given  him  a  keen  understanding,  a  restless  and 
mischievous  temper,  a  cold  heart,  and  an  abject  spirit.  His 
mind  had  undergone  a  training  by  which  all  his  vices  had 
been  nursed  up  to  the  rankest  maturity.  At  his  entrance  into 
public  life,  he  had  passed  several  years  in  diplomatic  posts 
abroad,  and  had  been,  during  some  time,  minister  in  France. 
Every  calling  has  its  peculiar  temptations.  There  is  no 
injustice  in  saying  that  diplomatists,  as  a  class,  have  always 
been  more  distinguished  by  their  address,  by  the  art  with 
which  they  win  the  confidence  of  those  with  whom  they  have 
to  deal,  and  by  the  ease  with  which  they  catch  the  tone  of 
every  society  into  which  they  are  admitted,  than  by  generous 
enthusiasm  or  austere  rectitude;  and  the  relations  between 
Charles  and  Lewis  were  such  that  no  English  nobleman  could 
long  reside  in  France  as  envoy,  and  retain  any  patriotic  or 
honourable  sentiment.  Sunderland  came  forth  from  the  bad 
school  in  which  he  had  been  brought  up,  cunning,  supple, 
shameless,  free  from  all  prejudices,  and  destitute  of  all  prin- 
ciples. He  was,  by  hereditary  connection,  a  Cavalier  :  but 
with  the  Cavaliers  he  had  nothing  in  common.  They  were 
zealous  for  monarchy,  and  condemned  in  theory  all  resistance. 
Yet  they  had  sturdy  English  hearts  which  would  never  have 
endured  real  despotism.  He,  on  the  contrary,  had  a  languid 
speculative  liking  for  republican  institutions,  which  was  com- 
patible with  perfect  readiness  to  be  in  practice  the  most  servile 
instrument  of  arbitrary  power.  Like  many  other  accomplished 
flatterers  and  negotiators,  he  was  far  more  skilful  in  the  art  of 
reading  the  characters  and  practising  on  the  weaknesses  of 
individuals,  than  in  the  art  of  discerning  the  feelings  of  great 


masses,  and  of  foreseeing  the  approach  of  great  revolutions. 
He  was  adroit  in  intrigue ;  and  it  was  difScult  even  for  shrewd 
and  experienced  men  who  had  been  amply  forewarned  of  his 
perfidy  to  withstand  the  fascination  of  his  manner,  and  to 
refuse  credit  to  his  professions  of  attachment.  But  he  was  so 
intent  on  observing  and  courting  particular  persons,  that  he 
forgot  to  study  the  temper  of  the  nation.  He  therefore 
miscalculated  grossly  with  respect  to  all  the  most  momentous 
events  of  his  time.  Every  important  movement  and  rebound 
of  the  public  mind  took  him  by  surprise ;  and  the  world, 
unable  to  understand  how  so  clever  a  man  could  be  blind  to" 
what  was  clearly  discerned  by  the  politicians  of  the  coffee 
houses,  sometimes  attributed  to  deep  design  what  were  in 
truth  mere  blunders. 

It  was  only  in  private  conference  that  his  eminent  abilities 
displayed  themselves.  In  the  royal  closet,  or  in  a  very  small 
circle,  he  exercised  great  influence.  But  at  the  Council  board 
he  was  taciturn ;  and  in  the  House  of  Lords  he  never  opened 
his  lips. 

The  four  confidential  advisers  of  the  crown  soon  found  tha.t 
their  position  was  embarrassing  and  invidious.  The  other 
members  of  the  Council  murmured  at  a  distinction  inconsistent 
with  the  King's  promises  ;  and  some  of  them,  with  Shaftesbury 
at  their  head,  again  betook  themselves  to  strenuous  opposition 
in  Parliament.  The  agitation,  which  had  been  suspended  by 
the  late  changes,  speedily  became  more  violent  than  ever.  It 
was  in  vain  that  Charles  offered  to  grant  to  the  Commons  any 
security  for  the  Protestant  religion  which  they  could  devise, 
provided  only  that  they  would  not  touch  the  order  of  succes- 
sion. They  would  hear  of  no  compromise.  They  would  have 
the  Exclusion  Bill  and  nothing  but  the  Exclusion  Bill.  The 
King,  therefore,  a  few  weeks  after  he  had  publicly  promised  to 
take  no  step  without  the  advice  of  his  new  Council,  went  down 
to  the  House  of  Lords  without  mentioning  his  intention  in 
Council,  and  prorogued  the  Parliament. 

The  day  of  that  prorogation,  the  twenty-sixth  of  May  1679, 
is  a  great  era  in  our  history.  For  on  that  day  the  Habeas 
Corpus  Act  received  the  royal  assent.  From  the  time  of  the 
Great  Charter,  the  substantive  law  respecting  the  personal 
liberty  of  Englishmen  had  been  nearly  the  same  as  at  present : 
but  it  had  been  inefficacious  for  want  of  a  stringent  system  of 
procedure.  What  was  needed  was  not  a  new  right,  but  a 
prompt  and  searching  remedy  ,  and  such  a  remedy  the  Habeas 
Corpus  Act  supplied.     The  King  would  gladly  have  refused 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 87 

his  consent  to  that  measure  :  but  he  was  about  to  appeal  from 
his  Parliament  to  his  people  on  the  question  of  the  succession ; 
and  he  could  not  venture,  at  so  critical  a  moment,  to  reject  a 
bill  which  was  in  the  highest  degree  popular. 

On  the  same  day,  the  press  of  England  became  for  a  short 
time  free.  In  old  times  printers  had  been  strictly  controlled 
by  the  Court  of  Star  Chamber.  The  Long  Parliament  had 
abolished  the  Star  Chamber,  but  had,  in  spite  of  the  philo- 
sophical and  eloquent  expostulation  of  Milton,  established  and 
maintained  a  censorship.  Soon  after  the  Restoration,  an  Act 
had  been  passed  which  prohibited  the  printing  of  unHcensed 
books  ;  and  it  had  been  provided  that  this  Act  should  continue 
in  force  till  the  end  of  the  first  session  of  the  next  Parliament. 
That  moment  had  now  arrived  ;  and  the  King,  in  the  very  act 
of  dismissing  the  Houses,  emancipated  the  press. 

Shortly  after  the  prorogation  came  a  dissolution  and  another 
general  election.  The  zeal  and  strength  of  the  opposition 
were  at  the  height.  The  cry  for  the  Exclusion  Bill  was  louder 
than  ever  ;  and  with  this  cry  was  mingled  another  cry,  which 
fired  the  blood  of  the  multitude,  but  which  was  heard  with 
regret  and  alarm  by  all  judicious  friends  of  freedom.  Not 
only  the  rights  of  the  Duke  of  York,  an  avowed  Papist,  but 
those  of  his  two  daughters,  sincere  and  zealous  Protestants, 
were  assailed.  It  was  confidently  affirmed  that  the  eldest 
natural  son  of  the  King  had  been  born  in  wedlock,  and  was 
lawful  heir  to  the  crown. 

Charles,  while  a  wanderer  on  the  Continent,  had  fallen  in 
at  the  Hague  with  Lucy  Walters,  a  Welsh  girl  of  great  beauty, 
but  of  weak  understanding  and  dissolute  manners.  She 
became  his  mistress,  and  presented  him  with  a  son.  A 
suspicious  lover  might  have  had  his  doubts ;  for  the  lady  had 
several  admirers,  and  was  not  supposed  to  be  cruel  to  any. 
Charles,  however,  readily  took  her  word,  and  poured  forth  on 
little  James  Croft,  as  the  boy  was  then  called,  an  overflowing 
fondness,  such  as  seemed  hardly  to  belong  to  that  cool  and 
careless  nature.  Soon  after  the  Restoration,  the  young 
favourite,  who  had  learned  in  France  the  exercises  then  con- 
sidered necessary  to  a  fine  gentleman,  made  his  appearance  at 
Whitehall.  He  was  lodged  in  the  palace,  attended  by  pages, 
and  permitted  to  enjoy  several  distinctions  which  had  till  then 
been  confined  to  princes  of  the  blood  royal.  He  was  married, 
while  still  in  tender  youth,  to  Anne  Scott,  heiress  of  the  noble 
house  of  Buccleuch.  He  took  her  name,  and  received  with 
her  hand  possession  of  her  ample  domains.     The  estate  which 


he  acquired  by  this  match  was  popularly  estimated  at  not  less 
than  ten  thousand  pounds  a  year.     Titles,  and  favours  more 
substantial  than  titles,  were  lavished  on  him.     He  was  made 
Duke  of  Monmouth  in  England,  Duke  of  Buccleuch  in  Scot- 
land, a  Knight   of  the   Garter,  Master  of  the  Horse,  Com- 
mander of  the  first  troop  of  Life  Guards,  Chief  Justice  of  Eyre 
south  of  Trent,  and  Chancellor  of  the  University  of  Cambridge. 
Nor  did  he  appear  to  the  public  unworthy  of  his  high  fortunes. 
His  countenance  was  eminently  handsome  and  engaging,  his 
temper   sweet,    his    manners   polite   and   affable.     Though   a 
libertine,  he  won  the  hearts  of  the  Puritans.     Though  he  was 
known  to  have  been  privy  to  the  shameful  attack  on  Sir  John 
Coventry,  he  easily  obtained  the  forgiveness  of  the  Country 
Party.     Even   austere  moralists  owned  that,  in  such  a  court, 
strict  conjugal  fidelity  was  scarcely  to  be  expected   from  one 
who,  while  a  child,  had  been  married  to  another  child.     Even 
patriots  were  willing  to  excuse  a  headstrong  boy  for  visiting 
with   immoderate  vengeance  an  insult  offered  to  his  father. 
And  soon  the  stain  left  by  loose  amours  and  midnight  brawls 
was  effaced  by  honourable  exploits.     When  Charles  and  Lewis 
united  their  forces  against  Holland,  Monmouth  commanded 
the  English  auxiliaries  who  were  sent  to  the  Continent,  and 
approved   himself  a  gallant   soldier   and   a  not  unintelligent 
officer.     On  his  return  he  found  himself  the  most  popular  man 
in   the   kingdom.     Nothing  was  withheld  from  him  but  the 
crown  ;  nor  did  even  the  crown  seem  to  be  absolutely  beyond 
his  reach.     The  distinction  which  had  most  injudiciously  been 
made  between  him  and  the  highest  nobles  had  produced  evil 
consequences.     When  a  boy  he  had  been  invited  to  put  on 
his  hat  in  the  presence  chamber,  while  Howards  and  Seymours 
stood  uncovered  round  him.     When  foreign  princes  died,  he 
had  mourned   for  them  in  the  long  purple  cloak,  which  no 
other  subject,  except  the  Duke  of  York  and  Prince  Rupert,  was 
permitted  to  wear.     It  was  natural  that  these  things  should 
lead  him  to  regard  himself  as  a  legitimate  prince  of  the  House 
of  Stuart.     Charles,  even  at  a  ripe  age,  was  devoted   to  his 
pleasures  and  regardless  of  his  dignity.     It  could  hardly  be 
thought   incredible   that   he  should   at   twenty  have   secretly 
gone  through  the  form  of  espousing  a  lady  whose  beauty  had 
fascinated  him,  and  who  was  not  to  be  won  on  easier  terms. 
While  Monmouth  was  still  a  child,  and  while  the  Duke  of 
York  still  passed  for  a  Protestant,  it  was  rumoured  throughout 
the  country,  and   even  in  circles  which  ought  to  have  been 
well  informed,  that  the  King  had  made  Lucy  Walters  his  wife, 

THE    REIGN     OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  I  89 

and  that,  if  every  one  had  his  right,  her  son  would  be  Prince  of 
Wales.  Much  was  said  of  a  certain  black  box  which,  according 
to  the  vulgar  belief,  contained  the  contract  of  marriage. 
When  Monmouth  had  returned  from  the  Low  Countries  with 
a  high  character  for  valour  and  conduct,  and  when  the  Duke 
of  York  was  known  to  be  a  member  of  a  church  detested  by 
the  great  majority  of  the  nation,  this  idle  story  became 
important.  For  it  there  was  not  the  slightest  evidence. 
Against  it  there  was  the  solemn  asseveration  of  the  King,  made 
before  his  Council,  and  by  his  order  communicated  to  his 
people.  But  the  multitude,  always  fond  of  romantic  adven- 
tures, drank  in  eagerly  the  tale  of  the  secret  espousals  and  the 
black  box.  Some  chiefs  of  the  opposition  acted  on  this 
occasion  as  they  acted  with  respect  to  the  more  odious  fable  of 
Oates,  and  countenanced  a  story  which  they  must  have 
despised.  The  interest  which  the  populace  took  in  him  whom 
they  regarded  as  the  champion  of  the  true  religion,  and  the 
rightful  heir  of  the  British  throne,  was  kept  up  by  every 
artifice.  When  Monmouth  arrived  in  London  at  midnight, 
the  watchmen  were  ordered  by  the  magistrates  to  proclaim 
the  joyful  event  through  the  streets  of  the  City  :  the  people 
left  their  beds :  bonfires  were  lighted :  the  windows  were 
illuminated  :  the  churches  were  opened  ;  and  a  merry  peal  rose 
from  all  the  steeples.  When  he  travelled,  he  was  everywhere 
received  with  not  less  pomp,  and  with  far  more  enthusiasm, 
than  had  been  displayed  when  Kings  had  made  progresses 
through  the  realm.  He  was  escorted  from  mansion  to 
mansion  by  long  cavalcades  of  armed  gentlemen  and  yeomen. 
Cities  poured  forth  their  whole  population  to  receive  him. 
Electors  thronged  round  him,  to  assure  him  that  their  votes 
were  at  his  disposal.  To  such  a  height  were  his  pretensions 
carried,  that  he  not  only  exhibited  on  his  escutcheon  the  lions 
of  England  and  the  lilies  of  France  without  the  baton  sinister 
under  which,  according  to  the  law  of  heraldry,  they  were 
debruised  in  token  of  his  illegitimate  birth,  but  ventured  to 
touch  for  the  king's  evil.  At  the  same  time,  he  neglected  no 
art  of  condescension  by  which  the  love  of  the  multitude  could 
be  conciliated.  He  stood  godfather  to  the  children  of  the 
peasantry,  mingled  in  every  rustic  sport,  wrestled,  played  at 
quarterstaff,  and  won  footraces  in  his  boots  against  fleet 
runners  in  shoes. 

It  is  a  curious  circumstance  that,  at  two  of  the  greatest 
conjunctures  in  our  history,  the  chiefs  of  the  Protestant  party 
should  have  committed  the  same  error,  and  should  by  that 


error  have  greatly  endangered  their  country  and  their  religion. 
At  the  death  of  Edward  the  Sixth  they  set  up  the  Lady  Jane, 
without  any  show  of  birthright,  in  opposition,  not  only  to  their 
enemy  Mary,  but  also  to  Elizabeth,  the  true  hope  of  England 
and  of  the  Reformation.  Thus  the  most  respectable  Pro- 
testants, with  Elizabeth  at  their  head,  were  forced  to  make 
common  cause  with  the  Papists.  In  the  same  manner,  a 
hundred  and  thirty  years  later,  a  part  of  the  opposition,  by 
setting  up  Monmouth  as  a  claimant  of  the  crown,  attacked  the 
rights,  not  only  of  James,  whom  they  justly  regarded  as  an 
implacable  foe  of  their  faith  and  their  liberties,  but  also  of  the 
Prince  and  Princess  of  Orange,  who  were  eminently  marked  out, 
both  by  situation  and  by  personal  qualities,  as  the  defenders 
of  all  free  governments  and  of  all  reformed  Churches. 

In  a  few  years  the  folly  of  this  course  became  manifest  At 
present  the  popularity  of  Monmouth  constituted  a  great  part 
of  the  strength  of  the  opposition.  The  elections  went  against 
the  court :  the  day  fixed  for  the  meeting  of  the  Houses  drew 
near ;  and  it  was  necessary  that  the  King  should  determine  on 
some  line  of  conduct.  Those  who  advised  him  discerned  the 
first  faint  signs  of  a  change  of  public  feeling,  and  hoped  that,  by 
merely  postponing  the  conflict,  he  would  be  able  to  secure  the 
victory.  He  therefore,  without  even  asking  the  opinion  of  the 
Council  of  the  Thirty,  resolved  to  prorogue  the  new  Parliament 
before  it  entered  on  business.  At  the  same  time  the  Duke 
of  York,  who  had  returned  from  Brussels,  was  ordered  to 
retire  to  Scotland,  and  was  placed  at  the  head  of  the  adminis- 
tration of  that  kingdom. 

Temple's  plan  of  government  was  now  avowedly  abandoned 
and  very  soon  forgotten.  The  Privy  Council  again  became 
what  it  had  been.  Shaftesbury  and  those  who  were  connected 
with  him  in  politics  resigned  their  seats.  Temple  himself,  as 
was  his  wont  in  unquiet  times,  retire'd  to  his  garden  and  his 
library.  Essex  quitted  the  board  of  Treasury,  and  cast  in  his 
lot  with  the  opposition.  But  Halifax,  disgusted  and  alarmed 
by  the  violence  of  his  old  associates,  and  Sunderland,  who 
never  quitted  place  while  he  could  hold  it,  remained  in  the 
King's  service. 

In  consequence  of  the  resignations  which  took  place  at  this 
conjuncture,  the  way  to  greatness  was  left  clear  to  a  new  set  of 
aspirants.  Two  statesmen,  who  subsequently  rose  to  the 
highest  eminence  which  a  British  subject  can  reach,  soon  began 
to  attract  a  large  share  of  the  public  attention.  These  were 
Lawrence  Hyde  and  Sidney  Godolphin. 


Lawrence  Hyde  was  the  second  son  of  the  Chancellor 
Clarendon,  and  was  brother  of  the  first  Duchess  of  York.  He 
had  excellent  parts,  which  had  been  improved  by  parliamentary 
and  diplomatic  experience ;  but  the  infirmities  of  his  temper 
detracted  much  from  the  effective  strength  of  his  abilities. 
Negotiator  and  courtier  as  he  was,  he  never  learned  the  art  of 
governing  or  of  concealing  his  emotions.  When  prosperous, 
he  was  insolent  and  boastful :  when  he  sustained  a  check,  his 
undisguised  mortification  doubled  the  triumph  of  his  enemies  : 
very  slight  provocations  sufficed  to  kindle  his  anger  ;  and  when 
he  was  angry  he  said  bitter  things  which  he  forgot  as  soon  as 
he  was  pacified,  but  which  others  remembered  many  years. 
His  quickness  and  penetration  would  have  made  him  a  con- 
summate man  of  business  but  for  his  selfsufificiency  and 
impatience.  His  writings  prove  that  he  had  many  of  the 
qualities  of  an  orator  :  but  his  irritability  prevented  him  from 
doing  himself  justice  in  debate  :  for  nothing  was  easier  than  to 
goad  him  into  a  passion ;  and,  from  the  moment  when  he 
went  into  a  passion,  he  was  at  the  mercy  of  opponents  far 
inferior  to  him  in  capacity. 

Unlike  most  of  the  leading  politicians  of  that  generation  he 
was  a  consistent,  dogged,  and  rancorous  party  man,  a  Cavalier 
of  the  old  school,  a  zealous  champion  of  the  crown  and  of  the 
Church,  and  a  hater  of  Republicans  and  Nonconformists.  He 
had  consequently  a  great  body  of  personal  adherents.  The 
clergy  especially  looked  on  him  as  their  own  man,  and  extended 
to  his  foibles  an  indulgence  of  which,  to  say  the  truth,  he  stood 
in  some  need :  for  he  drank  deep ;  and  when  he  was  in  a  rage, 
— and  he  very  often  was  in  a  rage, — he  swore  like  a  porter. 

He  now  succeeded  Essex  at  the  Treasury.  It  is  to  be 
observed  that  the  place  of  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury  had  not 
then  the  importance  and  dignity  which  now  belong  to  it. 
When  there  was  a  Lord  Treasurer,  that  great  officer  was 
generally  prime  minister :  but,  when  the  white  staff  was  in 
commission,  the  chief  commissioner  did  not  rank  so  high  as  a 
Secretary  of  State.  It  was  not  till  the  time  of  Walpole  that 
the  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury  was  considered  as  the  head  of 
the  executive  administration. 

Godolphin  had  been  bred  a  page  at  Whitehall,  and  had 
early  acquired  all  the  flexibility  and  the  self-possession  of  a 
veteran  courtier.  He  was  laborious,  clearheaded,  and  pro- 
foundly versed  in  the  details  of  finance.  Every  government, 
therefore,  found  him  an  useful  servant ;  and  there  was  nothing 
in  his  opinions  or  in  his  character  which  could  prevent  him 



from  serving  any  government.  "  Sidney  Godolphin,"  said 
Charles,  "is  never  in  the  way,  and  never  out  of  the  way." 
This  pointed  remark  goes  far  to  explain  Godolphin's  extra- 
ordinary success  in  life. 

He  acted  at  different  times  with  both  the  great  political 
parties  :  but  he  never  shared  in  the  passions  of  either.  Like 
most  men  of  cautious  tempers  and  prosperous  fortunes,  he  had 
a  strong  disposition  to  support  whatever  existed.  He  disliked 
revolutions ;  and,  for  the  same  reason  for  which  he  disliked 
revolutions,  he  disliked  counter-revolutions.  His  deportment 
was  remarkably  grave  and  reserved :  but  his  personal  tastes 
were  low  and  frivolous ;  and  most  of  the  time  which  he  could 
save  from  public  business  was  spent  in  racing,  cardplaying,  and 
cockfighting.  He  now  sate  below  Rochester  at  the  board  of 
Treasury,  and  distinguished  himself  there  by  assiduity  and 

Before  the  new  Parliament  was  suffered  to  meet  for  despatch 
of  business,  a  whole  year  elapsed,  an  eventful  year,  which  has 
left  lasting  traces  in  our  manners  and  language.  Never  before 
had  political  controversy  been  carried  on  with  so  much  free- 
dom. Never  before  had  political  clubs  existed  with  so 
elaborate  an  organisation,  or  so  formidable  an  influence.  The 
one  question  of  the  exclusion  occupied  the  public  mind.  All 
the  presses  and  pulpits  of  the  realm  took  part  in  the  conflict. 
On  one  side  it  was  maintained  that  the  constitution  and 
religion  of  the  State  would  never  be  secured  under  a  Popish 
King ;  on  the  other,  that  the  right  of  James  to  wear  the  crown 
in  his  turn  was  derived  from  God,  and  could  not  be  annulled, 
even  by  the  consent  of  all  the  branches  of  the  legislature. 
Every  county,  every  town,  every  family,  was  in  agitation. 
The  civilities  and  hospitalities  of  neighbourhood  were  inter- 
rupted. The  dearest  ties  of  friendship  and  of  blood  were 
sundered.  Even  schoolboys  were  divided  into  angry  parties  ; 
and  the  Duke  of  York  and  the  Earl  of  Shaftesbury  had  zealous 
adherents  on  all  the  forms  of  Westminster  and  Eton.  The 
theatres  shook  with  the  roar  of  the  contending  factions.  Pope 
Joan  was  brought  on  the  stage  by  the  zealous  Protestants. 
Pensioned  poets  filled  their  prologues  and  epilogues  with 
eulogies  on  the  King  and  the  Duke.  The  malecontents 
besieged  the  throne  with  petitions,  demanding  that  Parliament 
might  be  forthwith  convened.  The  loyalists  sent  up  addresses, 
expressing  the  utmost  abhorrence  of  all  who  presumed  to 
dictate  to  the  sovereign.  The  citizens  of  London  assembled 
by   tens   of   thousands   to    bum   the   Pope   in   effigy.     The 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 93 

government  posted  cavalry  at  Temple  Bar,  and  placed 
ordnance  round  Whitehall.  In  that  year  our  tongue  was 
enriched  with  two  words,  Mob  and  Sham,  remarkable 
memorials  of  a  season  of  tumult  and  imposture.*  Opponents 
of  the  court  were  called  Birminghams,  Petitioners,  and 
Exclusionists.  Those  who  took  the  King's  side  were  Anti- 
birminghams,  Abhorrers,  and  Tantivies.  These  appellations 
soon  became  obsolete :  but  at  this  time  were  first  heard  two 
nicknames  which,  though  originally  given  in  insult,  were  soon 
assumed  with  pride,  which  are  still  in  daily  use,  which  have 
spread  as  widely  as  the  English  race,  and  which  will  last  as 
long  as  the  English  literature.  It  is  a  curious  circumstance 
that  one  of  these  nicknames  was  of  Scotch,  and  the  other  of 
Irish,  origin.  Both  in  Scotland  and  in  Ireland,  misgovern- 
ment  had  called  into  existence  bands  of  desperate  men  whose 
ferocity  was  heightened  by  religious  enthusiasm.  In  Scotland, 
some  of  the  persecuted  Covenanters,  driven  mad  by  oppression, 
had  lately  murdered  the  Primate,  had  taken  arms  against  the 
government,  had  obtained  some  advantages  against  the  King's 
forces,  and  had  not  been  put  down  till  Monmouth,  at  the 
head  of  some  troops  from  England,  had  routed  them  at  Both- 
well  Bridge.  These  zealots  were  most  numerous  among  the 
rustics  of  the  western  lowlands,  who  were  vulgarly  called 
Whigs.  Thus  the  appellation  of  Whig  was  fastened  on  the 
Presbyterian  zealots  of  Scotland,  and  was  transferred  to  those 
English  politicians  who  showed  a  disposition  to  oppose  the 
court,  and  to  treat  Protestant  Nonconformists  with  indulgence. 
The  bogs  of  Ireland,  at  the  same  time,  afforded  a  refuge  to 
Popish  outlaws,  much  resembling  those  who  were  afterwards 
known  as  Whiteboys.  These  men  were  then  called  Tories. 
The  name  of  Tory  was  therefore  given  to  Englishmen  who 
refused  to  concur  in  excluding  a  Roman  Catholic  prince  from 
the  throne. 

The  rage  of  the  hostile  factions  would  have  been  sufficiently 
violent,  if  it  had  been  left  to  itself  But  it  was  studiously 
exasperated  by  the  common  enemy  of  both.  Lewis  still  con- 
tinued to  bribe  and  flatter  both  court  and  opposition.  He 
exhorted  Charles  to  be  firm  :  he  exhorted  James  to  raise  a 
civil  war  in  Scotland  :  he  exhorted  the  Whigs  not  to  flinch, 
and  to  rely  with  confidence  on  the  protection  of  France. 

Through  all  this  agitation  a  discerning  eye  might  have  per- 
ceived that  the  public  opinion  was  gradually  changing.  The 
persecution  of  the  Roman  Catholics  went  on  ;  but  convictions 
*  North's  Examen,  231.  574- 


were  no  longer  matters  of  course.  A  new  brood  of  false  wit- 
nesses, among  whom  a  villain  named  Dangerfield  was  the  most 
conspicuous,  infested  the  courts  :  but  the  stories  of  these  men, 
though  better  constructed  than  that  of  Oates,  found  less  credit. 
Juries  were  no  longer  so  easy  of  belief  as  during  the  panic 
which  had  followed  the  murder  of  Godfrey  ;  and  Judges  who, 
while  the  popular  frenzy  was  at  the  height,  had  been  its  most 
obsequious  instruments,  now  ventured  to  express  some  part  of 
what  they  had  from  the  first  thought. 

At  length,  in  October  1680,  the  Parliament  met.  The 
Whigs  had  so  great  a  majority  in  the  Commons  that  the 
Exclusion  Bill  went  through  all  its  stages  there  without  diffi- 
culty. The  King  scarcely  knew  on  what  members  of  his 
own  cabinet  he  could  reckon.  Hyde  had  been  true  to  his  Tory 
opinions,  and  had  steadily  supported  the  cause  of  hereditary 
monarchy.  But  Godolphin,  anxious  for  quiet,  and  believing 
that  quiet  could  be  restored  only  by  concession,  wished  the 
bill  to  pass.  Sunderland,  ever  false  and  ever  short-sighted, 
unable  to  discern  the  signs  of  approaching  reaction,  and 
anxious  to  conciliate  the  party  which  he  believed  to  be  irresis- 
tible, determined  to  vote  against  the  court.  The  Duchess  of 
Portsmouth  implored  her  royal  lover  not  to  rush  headlong  to 
destruction.  If  there  were  any  point  on  which  he  had  a 
scruple  of  conscience  or  of  honour,  it  was  the  question  of  the 
succession ;  but  during  some  days  it  seemed  that  he  would 
submit.  He  wavered,  asked  what  sum  the  Commons  would 
give  him  if  he  yielded,  and  suffered  a  negotiation  to  be  opened 
with  the  leading  Whigs.  But  a  deep  mutual  distrust  which 
had  been  many  years  growing,  and  which  had  been  carefully 
nursed  by  the  arts  of  France,  made  a  treaty  impossible. 
Neither  side  would  place  confidence  in  the  other.  The  whole 
nation  now  looked  with  breathless  anxiety  to  the  House  of 
Lords.  The  assemblage  of  peers  was  large.  The  King  him- 
self was  present.  The  debate  was  long,  earnest,  and  occa 
sionally  furious.  Some  hands  were  laid  on  the  pommels  of 
swords,  in  a  manner  which  revived  the  recollection  of  the 
stormy  ParUaments  of  Henry  the  Third  and  Richard  the 
Second.  Shaftesbury  and  Essex  were  joined  by  the 
treacherous  Sunderland.  But  the  genius  of  HaUfax  bore  down 
all  opposition.  Deserted  by  his  most  important  colleagues,  and 
opposed  to  a  crowd  of  able  antagonists,  he  defended  the  cause 
of  the  Duke  of  York,  in  a  succession  of  speeches  which,  many 
years  later,  were  remembered  as  masterpieces  of  reasoning,  of 
wit,  and  of  eloquence.     It  is  seldom   that   oratory   changes 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 95 

votes.  Yet  the  attestation  of  contemporaries  leaves  no  doubt 
that,  on  this  occasion,  votes  were  changed  by  the  oratory  of 
Halifax.  The  Bishops,  true  to  their  doctrines,  supported  the 
principle  of  hereditary  right,  and  the  bill  was  rejected  by  a 
great  majority.* 

The  party  which  preponderated  in  the  House  of  Commons, 
bitterly  mortified  by  this  defeat,  found  some  consolation  in 
shedding  the  blood  of  Roman  Catholics.  William  Howard, 
Viscount  Stafford,  one  of  the  unhappy  men  who  had  been 
accused  of  a  share  in  the  plot,  was  brought  before  the  bar  of 
his  peers ;  and  on  the  testimony  of  Oates  and  of  two  other  false 
witnesses,  Dugdale  and  Turberville,  was  found  guilty  of  high 
treason,  and  suffered  death.  But  the  circumstances  of  his  trial 
and  execution  ought  to  have  given  an  useful  warning  to  the 
Whig  leaders.  A  large  and  respectable  minority  of  the  House 
of  Lords  pronounced  the  prisoner  not  guilty.  The  multitude, 
which  a  few  months  before  had  received  the  dying  declarations 
of  Oates's  victims  with  mockery  and  execrations,  now  loudly 
expressed  a  belief  that  Stafford  was  a  murdered  man.  When 
he  with  his  last  breath  protested  his  innocence,  the  cry  was, 
"  God  bless  you,  my  Lord  !  We  believe  you,  my  Lord."  A 
judicious  observer  might  easily  have  predicted  that  the  blood 
then  shed  would  shortly  have  blood. 

The  King  determined  to  try  once  more  the  experiment  of  a 
dissolution.  A  new  Parliament  was  summoned  to  meet  at 
Oxford,  in  March  1681.  Since  the  days  of  the  Plantagenets  the 
Houses  had  constantly  sate  at  Westminster,  except  when  the 
plague  was  raging  in  the  capital :  but  so  extraordinary  a 
conjuncture  seemed  to  require  extraordinary  precautions.     If 

*  A  peer  who  was  present  has  described  the  effect  of  Halifax's  oratory 
in  words  which  I  will  quote,  because,  though  they  have  been  long  in 
print,  they  are  probably  known  to  few  even  of  the  most  curious  and 
diligent  readers  of  history. 

"  Of  powerful  eloquence  and  great  parts  were  the  Duke's  enemies  who 
did  assert  the  bill ;  but  a  noble  Lord  appeared  against  it  who,  that  day,  in 
all  the  force  of  speech,  in  reison,  in  arguments  of  what  could  concern  the 
public  or  the  private  interests  of  men,  in  honour,  in  conscience,  in  estate, 
did  outdo  himself  and  every  other  man ;  and  in  fine  his  conduct  and  his 
parts  were  both  victorious,  and  by  him  all  the  wit  and  malice  of  that  party 
was  overthrown." 

This  passage  is  taken  from  a  memoir  of  Henry  Earl  of  Peterborough, 
in  a  volume  entitled  "Succinct  Genealogies,  by  Robert  Halstead,"  fol. 
1685.  The  name  of  Halstead  is  fictitious.  The  real  authors  were  the 
Earl  of  Peterborough  himself  and  his  chaplain.  The  book  is  extremely 
rare.  Only  twenty-four  copies  were  printed,  two  of  which  are  now  in 
the  British  Museum.  Of  these  two  one  belonged  to  George  the  Fourth, 
and  the  other  to  Mr.  Grenville. 


the  Parliament  were  held  in  its  usual  place  of  assembling, 
the  House  of  Commons  might  declare  itself  permanent,  and 
might  call  for  aid  on  the  magistrates  and  citizens  of  London. 
The  trainbands  might  rise  to  defend  Shaftesbury  as  they 
had  risen  forty  years  before  to  defend  Pym  and  Hampden. 
The  Guards  might  be  overpowered,  the  palace  forced,  the  King 
a  prisoner  in  the  hands  of  his  mutinous  subjects.  At  Oxford 
there  was  no  such  danger.  The  University  was  devoted  to  the 
crown ;  and  the  gentry  of  the  neighbourhood  were  generally 
Tories.  Here,  therefore,  the  opposition  had  more  reason  than 
the  King  to  apprehend  violence. 

The  elections  were  sharply  contested.  The  Whigs  still 
composed  a  majority  of  the  House  of  Commons :  but  it  was 
plain  that  the  Tory  spirit  was  fast  rising  throughout  the  country. 
It  should  seem  that  the  sagacious  and  versatile  Shaftesbury 
ought  to  have  foreseen  the  coming  change,  and  to  have  con- 
sented to  the  compromise  which  the  court  offered  :  but  he 
appears  to  have  utterly  forgotten  his  old  tactics.  Instead  of 
making  dispositions  which,  in  the  worst  event,  would  have 
secured  his  retreat,  he  took  up  a  position  in  which  it  was 
necessary  that  he  should  either  conquer  or  perish.  Perhaps  his 
head,  strong  as  it  was,  had  been  turned  by  popularity,  by 
success,  and  by  the  excitement  of  conflict.  Perhaps  he  had 
spurred  his  party  till  he  could  no  longer  curb  it,  and  was  really 
hurried  on  headlong  by  those  whom  he  seemed  to  guide. 

The  eventful  day  arrived.  The  meeting  at  Oxford  resembled 
rather  that  of  a  Polish  Diet  than  that  of  an  English  Parliament. 
The  Whig  members  were  escorted  by  great  numbers  of  their 
armed  and  mounted  tenants  and  serving  men,  who  exchanged 
looks  of  defiance  with  the  royal  Guards.  The  slightest  provoca- 
tion might,  under  such  circumstances,  have  produced  a  civil 
war ;  but  neither  side  dared  to  strike  the  first  blow.  The  King 
again  offered  to  consent  to  any  thing  but  the  Exclusion  Bill. 
The  Commons  were  determined  to  accept  nothing  but  the 
Exclusion  Bill.  In  a  few  days  the  Parliament  was  again 

The  King  had  triumphed.  The  reaction,  which  had  begun 
some  months  before  the  meeting  of  the  Houses  at  Oxford, 
now  went  rapidly  on.  The  nation,  indeed,  was  still  hostile  to 
Popery  :  but,  when  men  reviewed  the  whole  history  of  the  plot, 
they  felt  that  their  Protestant  zeal  had  hurried  them  into  folly 
and  crime,  and  could  scarcely  believe  that  they  had  been 
induced  by  nursery  tales  to  clamour  for  the  blood  of  fellow 
subjects  and  fellow  Christians.     The  most  loyal,  indeed,  could 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  I  97 

not  deny  that  the  administration  of  Charles  had  often  been 
highly  blamable.  But  men  who  had  not  the  full  information 
which  we  possess  touching  his  dealings  with  France,  and  who 
were  disgusted  by  the  violence  of  the  Whigs,  enumerated  the 
large  concessions  which,  during  the  last  few  years,  he  had 
made  to  his  Parliaments,  and  the  still  larger  concessions  which 
he  had  declared  himself  willing  to  make.  He  had  consented 
to  the  laws  which  excluded  Roman  Catholics  from  the  House 
of  Lords,  from  the  Privy  Council,  and  from  all  civil  and 
military  offices.  He  had  passed  the  Habeas  Corpus  Act.  If 
securities  yet  stronger  had  not  been  provided  against  the 
dangers  to  which  the  constitution  and  the  Church  might  be 
exposed  under  a  Roman  Catholic  sovereign,  the  fault  lay,  not 
with  Charles  who  had  invited  the  Parliament  to  propose  such 
securities,  but  with  those  Whigs  who  had  refused  to  hear  of 
any  substitute  for  the  Exclusion  Bill.  One  thing  only  had  the 
King  denied  to  his  people.  He  had  refused  to  take  away  his 
brother's  birthright.  And  was  there  not  good  reason  to  believe 
that  this  refusal  was  prompted  by  laudable  feelings?  What 
selfish  motive  could  faction  itself  impute  to  the  royal  mind  ? 
The  Exclusion  Bill  did  not  curtail  the  reigning  King's  pre- 
rogatives, or  diminish  his  income.  Indeed,  by  passing  it,  he 
might  easily  have  obtained  an  ample  addition  to  his  own 
revenue.  And  what  was  it  to  him  who  ruled  after  him  ?  Nay, 
if  he  had  personal  predilections,  they  were  known  to  be  rather 
in  favour  of  the  Duke  of  Monmouth  than  of  the  Duke  of  York. 
The  most  natural  explanation  of  the  King's  conduct  therefore 
seemed  to  be  that,  careless  as  was  his  temper,  and  loose  as 
were  his  morals,  he  had,  on  this  occasion,  acted  from  a  sense 
of  duty  and  honour.  And,  if  so,  would  the  nation  compel  him 
to  do  what  he  thought  criminal  and  disgraceful  ?  To  apply, 
even  by  strictly  constitutional  means,  a  violent  pressure  to 
his  conscience,  seemed  to  zealous  Royalists  ungenerous  and 
undutiful.  But  strictly  constitutional  means  were  not  the  only 
means  which  the  Whigs  were  disposed  to  employ.  Signs  were 
already  discernible  which  portended  the  approach  of  great 
troubles.  Men,  who  in  the  time  of  the  civil  war  and  of  the 
Commonwealth  had  acquired  an  odious  notoriety,  had  emerged 
from  the  obscurity  in  which,  after  the  Restoration,  they  had 
hidden  themselves  from  the  general  hatred,  showed  their  con- 
fident and  busy  faces  everywhere,  and  appeared  to  anticipate  a 
second  reign  of  the  Saints.  Another  Naseby,  another  High 
Court  of  Justice,  another  usurper  on  the  throne,  the  Lords 
again  ejected  from  their  hall  by  violence,  the  Universities  again 


purged,  the  Church  again  robbed  and  persecuted,  the  Puritans 
again  dominant,  to  such  results  did  the  desperate  policy  of  the 
opposition  seem  to  tend. 

Animated  by  such  feelings,  the  majority  of  the  upper  and 
middle  classes  hastened  to  rally  round  the  throne.  The 
situation  of  the  King  bore,  at  this  time,  a  great  resemblance  to 
that  in  which  his  father  stood  just  after  the  Remonstrance  had 
been  voted.  But  the  reaction  of  1641  had  not  been  suffered 
to  run  its  course.  Charles  the  First,  at  the  very  moment  when 
his  people,  long  estranged,  were  returning  to  him  with  hearts 
disposed  to  reconciliation,  had,  by  a  perfidious  violation  of  the 
fundamental  laws  of  the  realm,  forfeited  their  confidence  for 
ever.  Had  Charles  the  Second  taken  a  similar  course,  had  he 
arrested  the  Whig  leaders  in  an  irregular  manner,  and  impeached 
them  of  high  treason  before  a  tribunal  which  had  no  legal 
jurisdiction  over  them,  it  is  highly  probable  that  they  would 
speedily  have  regained  the  ascendency  which  they  had  lost. 
Fortunately  »for  himself  he  was  induced,  at  this  crisis,  to  adopt 
a  policy  which,  for  his  ends,  was  singularly  judicious.  He 
determined  to  conform  to  the  law,  but  at  the  same  time  to 
make  vigorous  and  unsparing  use  of  the  law  against  his  advers- 
aries. He  was  not  bound  to  convoke  a  Parliament  till  three 
years  should  have  elapsed.  He  was  not  much  distressed  for 
money.  The  produce  of  the  taxes  which  had  been  settled  on 
him  for  life  exceeded  the  estimate.  He  was  at  peace  with  all  the 
world.  He  could  retrench  his  expenses  by  giving  up  the  costly 
and  useless  settlement  of  Tangier ;  and  he  might  hope  for 
pecuniary  aid  from  France.  He  had,  therefore,  ample  time  and 
means  for  a  systematic  attack  on  the  opposition  under  the  forms 
of  the  constitution.  The  Judges  were  removable  at  his 
pleasure  :  the  juries  were  nominated  by  the  Sheriffs  ;  and,  in 
almost  all  the  counties  of  England,  the  Sheriffs  were  nominated 
by  himself.  Witnesses,  of  the  same  class  with  those  who  had 
recently  sworn  away  the  lives  of  Papists,  were  ready  to  swear 
away  the  lives  of  Whigs. 

The  first  victim  was  College,  a  noisy  and  violent  demagogue 
of  mean  birth  and  education.  He  was  by  trade  a  joiner,  and 
was  celebrated  as  the  inventor  of  the  Protestant  flail.*  He 
had  been  at  Oxford  when  the  Parliament  sate  there,  and  was 
accused  of  having  planned  a  rising  and  an  attack  on  the  King's 
guards.      Evidence  was  given  against  him  by  Dugdale  and 

*  This  is  mentioned  in  the  curious  work  entitled  "  Ragguaglio  della 
solenne  Comparsa  fatta  in  Roma  gli  otto  di  Gennaio,  1687,  dall'  illus- 
ti'issimo  et  eccellentissimo  signor  Conte  di  Castlemaine." 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  1 99 

Turberville,  the  same  infamous  men  who  had,  a  few  months 
earUer,  borne  false  witness  against  Stafford.  In  the  sight  of  a 
jury  of  country  squires  no  Exclusionist  was  likely  to  find 
favour.  College  was  convicted.  The  crowd  which  filled  the 
court  house  of  Oxford  received  the  verdict  with  a  roar  of 
exultation,  as  barbarous  as  that  which  he  and  his  friends  had 
been  in  the  habit  of  raising  when  innocent  Papists  were 
doomed  to  the  gallows.  His  execution  was  the  beginning  of  a 
new  judicial  massacre,  not  less  atrocious  than  that  in  which  he 
had  himself  borne  a  share. 

The  government,  emboldened  by  this  first  victory,  now  aimed 
a  blow  at  an  enemy  of  a  very  different  class.  It  was  resolved 
that  Shaftesbury  should  be  brought  to  trial  for  his  life. 
Evidence  was  collected  which,  it  was  thought,  would  support  a 
charge  of  treason.  But  the  facts  which  it  was  necessary  to 
prove  were  alleged  to  have  been  committed  in  London.  The 
Sheriffs  of  London,  chosen  by  the  citizens,  were  zealous  Whigs. 
They  named  a  Whig  grand  jury,  which  threw  out  the  bill. 
This  defeat,  far  from  discouraging  those  who  advised  the  King, 
suggested  to  them  a  new  and  daring  scheme.  Since  the  charter 
of  the  capital  was  in  their  way,  that  charter  must  be  annulled. 
It  was  pretended,  therefore,  that  the  City  of  London  had  by 
some  irregularities  forfeited  its  municipal  privileges  ;  and  pro- 
ceedings were  instituted  against  the  corporation  in  the  Court  of 
King's  bench.  At  the  same  time  those  laws  which  had,  soon 
after  the  Restoration,  been  enacted  against  Nonconformists, 
and  which  had  remained  dormant  during  the  ascendency  of  the 
Whigs,  were  enforced  all  over  the  kingdom  with  extreme  rigour. 

Yet  the  spirit  of  the  Whigs  was  not  subdued.  Though  in 
evil  plight,  they  were  still  a  numerous  and  powerful  party ;  and, 
as  they  mustered  strong  in  the  large  towns,  and  especially  in 
the  capital,  they  made  a  noise  and  a  show  more  than  propor- 
tioned to  their  real  force.  Animated  by  the  recollection  of 
past  triumphs,  and  by  the  sense  of  present  oppression,  they 
overrated  both  their  strength  and  their  wrongs.  It  was  not  in 
their  power  to  make  out  that  clear  and  overwhelming  case 
which  can  alone  justify  so  violent  a  remedy  as  resistance  to  an 
established  government.  Whatever  they  might  suspect,  they 
could  not  prove  that  their  sovereign  had  entered  into  a  treaty 
with  France  against  the  religion  and  liberties  of  England. 
What  was  apparent  was  not  sufficient  to  warrant  an  appeal  to 
the  sword.  If  the  Exclusion  Bill  had  been  thrown  out,  it 
had  been  thrown  out  by  the  Lords  in  the  exercise  of  a  right 
coeval  with  the  constitution.     If  the  King  had  dissolved  the 


Oxford  Parliament,  he  had  done  so  by  virtue  of  a  prerogative 
which  had  never  been  questioned.  If  the  court  had,  since  the 
dissolution,  done  some  harsh  things,  still  those  things  were  in 
strict  conformity  with  the  letter  of  the  law,  and  with  the  recent 
practice  of  the  malecontents  themselves.  If  the  King  had 
prosecuted  his  opponents,  he  had  prosecuted  them  according 
to  the  proper  forms,  and  before  the  proper  tribunals.  The 
evidence  now  produced  for  the  crown  was  at  least  as  worthy  of 
credit  as  the  evidence  on  which  the  noblest  blood  of  England 
had  lately  been  shed  by  the  opposition.  The  treatment  which 
an  accused  Whig  had  now  to  expect  from  judges,  advocates, 
sheriffs,  juries,  and  spectators,  was  no  worse  than  the  treatment 
which  had  lately  been  thought  by  the  Whigs  good  enough  for 
an  accused  Papist.  If  the  privileges  of  the  City  of  London 
were  attacked,  they  were  attacked,  not  by  military  violence  or 
by  any  disputable  exercise  of  prerogative,  but  according  to  the 
regular  practice  of  Westminster  Hall.  No  tax  was  imposed  by 
royal  authority.  No  law  was  suspended.  The  Habeas  Corpus 
Act  was  respected.  Even  the  Test  Act  was  enforced.  The 
opposition  therefore  could  not  bring  home  to  the  King  that 
species  of  misgovernment  which  alone  could  justify  insurrection. 
And,  even  had  his  misgovernment  been  more  flagrant  than  it 
was,  insurrection  would  still  have  been  criminal,  because  it  was 
almost  certain  to  be  unsuccessful.  The  situation  of  the  Whigs 
in  1682  differed  widely  from  that  of  the  Roundheads  forty 
years  before.  Those  who  took  up  arms  against  Charles  the 
First  acted  under  the  authority  of  a  Parliament  which  had  been 
legally  assembled,  and  which  could  not,  without  its  own 
consent,  be  legally  dissolved.  The  opponents  of  Charles  the 
Second  were  private  men.  Almost  all  the  military  and  naval 
resources  of  the  kingdom  had  been  at  the  disposal  of  those 
who  resisted  Charles  the  First.  All  the  military  and  naval  re- 
sources of  the  kingdom  were  at  the  disposal  of  Charles  the 
Second.  The  House  of  Commons  had  been  supported  by  at 
least  half  the  nation  against  Charles  the  First.  But  those  who 
were  disposed  to  levy  war  against  Charles  the  Second  were 
certainly  a  minority.  It  could  not  reasonably  be  doubted, 
therefore,  that,  if  they  attempted  a  rising,  they  would  fail.  Still 
less  could  it  be  doubted  that  their  failure  would  aggravate 
every  evil  of  which  they  complained.  The  true  policy  of  the 
Whigs  was  to  submit  with  patience  to  adversity  which  was  the 
natural  consequence  and  the  just  punishment  of  their  errors,  to 
wait  patiently  for  that  turn  of  public  feeling  which  must  inevit- 
ably come,  to  observe  the  law,  and  to  avail  themselves  of  the 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND         20I 

protection,  imperfect  indeed,  but  by  no  means  nugatory,  which 
the  law  afforded  to  innocence.  Unhappily  they  took  a  very 
different  course.  Unscrupulous  and  hotheaded  chiefs  of  the 
party  formed  and  discussed  schemes  of  resistance,  and  were 
heard,  if  not  with  approbation,  yet  with  the  show  of  acquies- 
cence, by  much  better  men  than  themselves.  It  was  proposed 
that  there  should  be  simultaneous  insurrections  in  London,  in 
Cheshire,  at  Bristol,  and  at  Newcastle.  Communications  were 
opened  with  the  discontented  Presbyterians  of  Scotland,  who 
were  suffering  under  a  tyranny  such  as  England,  in  the  worst 
times,  had  never  known.  While  the  leaders  of  the  opposition 
thus  revolved  plans  of  open  rebellion,  but  were  still  restrained 
by  fears  or  scruples  from  taking  any  decisive  step,  a  design  of  a 
very  different  kind  was  meditated  by  some  of  their  accomplices. 
To  fierce  spirits,  unrestrained  by  principle,  or  maddened  by 
fanaticism,  it  seemed  that  to  waylay  and  murder  the  King  and 
his  brother  was  the  shortest  and  surest  way  of  vindicating  the 
Protestant  religion  and  the  liberties  of  England.  A  place  and 
a  time  were  named  ;  and  the  details  of  the  butchery  were 
frequently  discussed,  if  not  definitively  arranged.  This  scheme 
was  known  but  to  few,  and  was  concealed  with  especial  care 
from  the  upright  and  humane  Russell,  and  from  Monmouth, 
who,  though  not  a  man  of  delicate  conscience,  would  have 
recoiled  with  horror  from  the  guilt  of  parricide.  Thus  there  were 
two  plots,  one  within  the  other.  The  object  of  the  great  Whig 
plot  was  to  raise  the  nation  in  arms  against  the  government. 
The  lesser  plot,  commonly  called  the  Rye  House  Plot,  in  which 
only  a  few  desperate  men  were  concerned,  had  for  its  object 
the  assassination  of  the  King  and  of  the  heir  presumptive. 

Both  plots  were  soon  discovered.  Cowardly  traitors  hastened 
to  save  themselves,  by  divulging  all,  and  more  than  all,  that 
had  passed  in  the  deliberations  of  the  party.  That  only  a 
small  minority  of  those  who  meditated  resistance  had  admitted 
into  their  minds  the  thought  of  assassination  is  fully  established  : 
but,  as  the  two  conspiracies  ran  into  each  other,  it  was  not 
difficult  for  the  government  to  confound  them  together.  The 
just  indignation  excited  by  the  Rye  House  Plot  was  extended 
for  a  time  to  the  whole  Whig  body.  The  King  was  now  at 
liberty  to  exact  full  vengeance  for  years  of  restraint  and 
humiliation.  Shaftesbury,  indeed,  had  escaped  the  fate  which 
his  manifold  perfidy  had  well  deserved.  He  had  seen  that  the 
ruin  of  his  party  was  at  hand,  had  in  vain  endeavoured  to 
make  his  peace  with  the  royal  brothers,  had  fled  to  Holland, 
and   had   died   there,    under   the   generous   protection   of    a 


government  which  he  had  cruelly  wronged.  Monmouth  threw 
himself  at  his  father's  feet  and  found  mercy,  but  soon  gave 
new  offence,  and  thought  it  prudent  to  go  into  voluntary  exile. 
Essex  perished  by  his  own  hand  in  the  Tower.  Russell,  who 
appears  to  have  been  guilty  of  no  offence  falling  within  the 
definition  of  high  treason,  and  Sidney,  of  whose  guilt  no  legal 
evidence  could  be  produced,  were  beheaded  in  defiance  of 
law  and  justice.  Russell  died  with  the  fortitude  of  a  Christian, 
Sidney  with  the  fortitude  of  a  Stoic.  Some  active  politicians 
of  meaner  rank  were  sent  to  the  gallows.  Many  quitted  the 
country.  Numerous  prosecutions  for  misprision  of  treason, 
for  libel,  and  for  conspiracy  were  instituted.  Convictions  were 
obtained  without  difficulty  from  Tory  juries,  and  rigorous 
punishments  were  inflicted  by  courtly  judges.  With  these 
criminal  proceedings  were  joined  civil  proceedings  scarcely 
less  formidable.  Actions  were  brought  against  persons  who 
had  defamed  the  Duke  of  York ;  and  damages  tantamount  to 
a  sentence  of  perpetual  imprisonment  were  demanded  by  the 
plaintiff,  and  without  difficulty  obtained.  The  Court  of  King's 
Bench  pronounced  that  the  franchises  of  the  City  of  London 
were  forfeited  to  the  crown.  Flushed  with  this  great  victory, 
the  government  proceeded  to  attack  the  constitutions  of  other 
corporations  which  were  governed  by  Whig  officers,  and  which 
had  been  in  the  habit  of  returning  Whig  members  to  Par- 
liament. Borough  after  borough  was  compelled  to  surrender 
its  privileges ;  and  new  charters  were  granted  which  gave  the 
ascendency  everywhere  to  the  Tories. 

These  proceedings,  however  reprehensible,  had  yet  the 
semblance  of  legality.  They  were  also  accompanied  by  an 
act  intended  to  quiet  the  uneasiness  with  which  many  loyal 
men  looked  forward  to  the  accession  of  a  Popish  sovereign. 
The  Lady  Anne,  younger  daughter  of  the  Duke  of  York  by 
his  first  wife,  was  married  to  George,  a  prince  of  the  orthodox 
House  of  Denmark.  The  Tory  gentry  and  clergy  might  now 
flatter  themselves  that  the  Church  of  England  had  been  effec- 
tually secured  without  any  violation  of  the  order  of  succession. 
The  King  and  his  heir  were  nearly  of  the  same  age.  Both 
were  approaching  the  decline  of  life.  The  King's  health  was 
good.  It  was  therefore  probable  that  James,  if  he  ever  came 
to  the  throne,  would  have  but  a  short  reign.  Beyond  his 
reign  there  was  the  gratifying  prospect  of  a  long  series  of 
Protestant  sovereigns. 

The  liberty  of  unlicensed  printing  was  of  little  or  no  use  to 
the  vanquished  party ;  for  the  temper  of  judges  and  juries  was 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  203 

such  that  no  writer  whom  the  government  prosecuted  for  a 
libel  had  any  chance  of  escaping.  The  dread  of  punishment 
therefore  did  all  that  a  censorship  could  have  done.  Mean- 
while, the  pulpits  resounded  with  harangues  against  the  sin  of 
rebellion.  The  treatises  in  which  Filmer  maintained  that 
hereditary  despotism  was  the  form  of  government  ordained  by 
God,  and  that  limited  monarchy  was  a  pernicious  absurdity, 
had  recently  appeared,  and  had  been  favourably  received  by  a 
large  section  of  the  Tory  party.  The  University  of  Oxford,  on 
the  very  day  on  which  Russell  was  put  to  death,  adopted  by  a 
solemn  public  act  these  strange  doctrines,  and  ordered  the 
political  works  of  Buchanan,  Milton,  and  Baxter  to  be  publicly 
burned  in  the  court  of  the  Schools. 

Thus  emboldened,  the  King  at  length  ventured  to  overstep 
the  bounds  which  he  had  during  some  years  observed,  and  to 
violate  the  plain  letter  of  the  law.  The  law  was  that  not  more 
than  three  years  should  pass  between  the  dissolving  of  one 
Parliament  and  the  convoking  of  another.  But,  when  three 
years  had  elapsed  after  the  dissolution  of  the  Parliament  which 
sate  at  Oxford,  no  writs  were  issued  for  an  election.  This 
infraction  of  the  constitution  was  the  more  reprehensible, 
because  the  King  had  little  reason  to  fear  a  meeting  with  a  new 
House  of  Commons.  The  counties  were  generally  on  his  side ; 
and  many  boroughs  in  which  the  Whigs  had  lately  held  sway 
had  been  so  remodelled  that  they  were  certain  to  return  none 
but  courtiers. 

In  a  short  time  the  law  was  again  violated  in  order  to  gratify 
the  Duke  of  York.  That  prince  was,  partly  on  account  of  his 
religion,  and  partly  on  account  of  the  sternness  and  harshness 
of  his  nature,  so  unpopular  that  it  had  been  thought  necessary 
to  keep  him  out  of  sight  while  the  Exclusion  Bill  was  before 
Parliament,  lest  his  public  appearance  should  give  an  advan- 
tage to  the  party  which  was  struggling  to  deprive  him  of 
his  birthright.  He  had  therefore  been  sent  to  govern  Scot- 
land, where  the  savage  old  tyrant  Lauderdale  was  sinking 
into  the  grave.  Even  Lauderdale  was  now  outdone.  The 
administration  of  James  was  marked  by  odious  laws,  by 
barbarous  punishments,  and  by  judgments  to  the  iniquity  of 
which  even  that  age  furnished  no  parallel.  The  Scottish  Privy 
Council  had  power  to  put  state  prisoners  to  the  question.  But 
the  sight  was  so  dreadful  that,  as  soon  as  the  boots  appeared, 
even  the  most  servile  and  hardhearted  courtiers  hastened  out  of 
the  chamber.  The  board  was  sometimes  quite  deserted  :  and 
it  was  at  length  found  necessary  to  make  an  order  that  the 


members  should  keep  their  seats  on  such  occasions.  The 
Duke  of  York,  it  was  remarked,  seemed  to  take  pleasure  in  the 
spectacle  which  some  of  the  worst  men  then  living  were  unable 
to  contemplate  without  pity  and  horror.  He  not  only  came 
to  Council  when  the  torture  was  to  be  inflicted,  but  watched 
the  agonies  of  the  sufferers  with  that  sort  of  interest  and 
complacency  with  which  men  observe  a  curious  experiment  in 
science.  Thus  he  employed  himself  at  Edinburgh,  till  the 
event  of  the  conflict  between  the  court  and  the  Whigs  was  no 
longer  doubtful.  He  then  returned  to  England  :  but  he  was 
still  excluded  by  the  Test  Act  from  all  public  employment;  nor 
did  the  King  at  first  think  it  safe  to  violate  a  statute  which  the 
great  majority  of  his  most  loyal  subjects  regarded  as  one  of  the 
chief  securities  of  their  religion  and  of  their  civil  rights.  When, 
however,  it  appeared,  from  a  succession  of  trials,  that  the 
nation  had  patience  to  endure  almost  anything  that  the  govern- 
ment had  courage  to  do,  Charles  ventured  to  dispense  with  the 
law  in  his  brother's  favour.  The  Duke  again  took  his  seat  in 
the  Council,  and  resumed  the  direction  of  naval  affairs. 

These  breaches  of  the  constitution  excited,  it  is  true,  some 
murmurs  among  the  moderate  Tories,  and  were  not  unanimously 
approved  even  by  the  King's  ministers.  Halifax  in  particular, 
now  a  Marquess  and  Lord  Privy  Seal,  had,  from  the  very  day 
on  which  the  Tories  had  by  his  help  gained  the  ascendant,  begun 
to  turn  Whig.  As  soon  as  the  Exclusion  Bill  had  been  thrown 
out,  he  had  pressed  the  House  of  Lords  to  make  provision 
against  the  danger  to  which,  in  the  next  reign,  the  liberties  and 
religion  of  the  nation  might  be  exposed.  He  now  saw  with  alarm 
the  violence  of  that  reaction  which  was,  in  no  small  measure, 
his  own  work.  He  did  not  try  to  conceal  the  scorn  which  he 
felt  for  the  servile  doctrines  of  the  University  of  Oxford.  He 
detested  the  French  alliance.  He  disapproved  of  the  long 
intermission  of  Parliaments.  He  regretted  the  severity  with 
which  the  vanquished  party  was  treated.  He  who,  when  the 
Whigs  were  predominant,  had  ventured  to  pronounce  Stafford 
not  guilty,  ventured,  when  they  were  vanquished  and  helpless, 
to  intercede  for  Russell.  At  one  of  the  last  councils  which 
Charles  held  a  remarkable  scene  took  place.  The  charter  of 
Massachusetts  had  been  forfeited.  A  question  arose  how,  for 
the  future,  the  colony  should  be  governed.  The  general 
opinion  of  the  board  was  that  the  whole  power,  legislative  as 
well  as  executive,  should  abide  in  the  crown.  Halifax  took  the 
opposite  side,  and  argued  with  great  energy  against  absolute 
monarchy,  and  in  favour  of  representative  government.    It  was 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  205 

vain,  he  said,  to  think  that  a  population,  sprung  from  the 
English  stock,  and  animated  by  English  feelings,  would  long 
bear  to  be  deprived  of  English  institutions.  Life,  he  exclaimed, 
would  not  be  worth  having  in  a  country  where  liberty  and 
property  were  at  the  mercy  of  one  despotic  master.  The  Duke 
of  York  was  greatly  incensed  by  this  language,  and  represented 
to  his  brother  the  danger  of  retaining  in  office  a  man  who 
appeared  to  be  infected  with  all  the  worst  notions  of  Marvell 
and  Sidney. 

Some  modern  writers  have  blamed  Halifax  for  continuing  in 
the  ministry  while  he  disapproved  of  the  manner  in  which  both 
domestic  and  foreign  affairs  were  conducted.  But  this  censure 
is  unjust.  Indeed  it  is  to  be  remarked  that  the  word  ministry, 
in  the  sense  in  which  we  use  it,  was  then  unknown.*  The 
thing  itself  did  not  exist ;  for  it  belongs  to  an  age  in  which 
parliamentary  government  is  fully  established.  At  present  the 
chief  servants  of  the  crown  form  one  body.  They  are  under- 
stood to  be  on  terms  of  friendly  confidence  with  each  other, 
and  to  agree  as  to  the  main  principles  on  which  the  executive 
administration  ought  to  be  conducted.  If  a  slight  difference 
of  opinion  arises  among  them,  it  is  easily  compromised  :  but,  if 
one  of  them  differs  from  the  rest  on  a  vital  point,  it  is  his  duty 
to  resign.  While  he  retains  his  office,  he  is  held  responsible 
even  for  steps  which  he  has  tried  to  dissuade  his  colleagues 
from  taking.  In  the  seventeenth  century,  the  heads  of  the 
various  branches  of  the  administration  were  bound  together  in 
no  such  partnership.  Each  of  them  was  accountable  for  his 
own  acts,  for  the  use  which  he  made  of  his  own  official  seal,  for 
the  documents  which  he  signed,  for  the  counsel  which  he  gave 
to  the  King.  No  statesman  was  held  answerable  for  what  he 
had  not  himself  done,  or  induced  others  to  do.  If  he  took 
care  not  to  be  the  agent  in  what  was  wrong,  and  if,  when  con- 
sulted, he  recommended  what  was  right,  he  was  blameless.  It 
would  have  been  thought  strange  scrupulosity  in  him  to  quit 
his  post,  because  his  advice  as  to  matters  not  strictly  within 
his  own  department  was  not  taken  by  his  master ;  to  leave  the 
board  of  Admiralty,  for  example,  because  the  finances  were  in 
disorder,  or  the  board  of  Treasury  because  the  foreign  relations 
of  the  kingdom  were  in  an  unsatisfactory  state.  It  was,  there- 
fore, by  no  means  unusual  to  see  in  high  office,  at  the  same 
time,  men  who  avowedly  differed  from  one  another  as  widely 
as  ever  Pulteney  differed  from  Walpole,  or  Fox  from  Pitt. 

The  moderate  and  constitutional  counsels  of  Halifax  were 

*  North's  Examen,  69. 


timidly  and  feebly  seconded  by  Francis  North,  Lord  Guildford, 
who  had  lately  been  made  Keeper  of  the  Great  Seal.  The 
character  of  Guildford  has  been  drawn  at  full  length  by  his 
brother  Roger  North,  a  most  intolerant  Tory,  a  most  affected 
and  pedantic  writer,  but  a  vigilant  observer  of  all  those  minute 
circumstances  which  throw  light  on  the  dispositions  of  men. 
It  is  remarkable  that  the  biographer,  though  he  was  under  the 
influence  of  the  strongest  fraternal  partiality,  and  though  he 
was  evidently  anxious  to  produce  a  flattering  likeness,  was  yet 
unable  to  portray  the  Lord  Keeper  otherwise  than  as  the  most 
ignoble  of  mankind.  Yet  the  intellect  of  Guildford  was  clear, 
his  industry  great,  his  proficiency  in  letters  and  science  respect- 
able, and  his  legal  learning  more  than  respectable.  His  faults 
were  selfishness,  cowardice,  and  meanness.  He  was  not 
insensible  to  the  power  of  female  beauty,  nor  averse  from 
excess  in  wine.  Yet  neither  wine  nor  beauty  could  ever  seduce 
the  cautious  and  frugal  libertine,  even  in  his  earliest  youth, 
into  one  fit  of  indiscreet  generosity.  Though  of  noble  descent, 
he  rose  in  his  profession  by  paying  ignominious  homage  to  all 
who  possessed  influence  in  the  courts.  He  became  Chief  Jus- 
tice of  the  Common  Pleas,  and  as  such  was  party  to  some  of  the 
foulest  judicial  murders  recorded  in  our  history.  He  had  sense 
enough  to  perceive  from  the  first  that  Gates  and  Bedloe  were 
impostors  :  but  the  Parliament  and  the  country  were  greatly 
excited ;  the  government  had  yielded  to  the  pressure ;  and 
North  was  not  a  man  to  risk  a  good  place  for  the  sake  of 
justice  and  humanity.  Accordingly,  while  he  was  in  secret 
drawing  up  a  refutation  of  the  whole  romance  of  the  Popish 
plot,  he  declared  in  public  that  the  truth  of  the  story  was  as 
plain  as  the  sun  in  heaven,  and  was  not  ashamed  to  browbeat, 
from  the  seat  of  judgment,  the  unfortunate  Roman  Catholics 
who  were  arraigned  before  him  for  their  lives.  He  had  at 
length  reached  the  highest  post  in  the  law.  But  a  lawyer, 
who,  after  many  years  devoted  to  professional  labour,  engages 
in  politics  for  the  first  time  at  an  advanced  period  of  life, 
seldom  distinguishes  himself  as  a  statesman  ;  and  Guildford 
was  no  exception  to  the  general  rule.  He  was  indeed  so 
sensible  of  his  deficiencies  that  he  never  attended  the  meetings 
of  his  colleagues  on  foreign  affairs.  Even  on  questions  relat- 
ing to  his  own  profession  his  opinion  had  less  weight  at  the 
Council  board  than  that  of  any  man  who  has  ever  held  the 
Great  Seal.  Such  as  his  influence  was,  however,  he  used  it,  as 
far  as  he  dared,  on  the  side  of  the  laws. 

The  chief  opponent  of  Halifax  was  Lawrence  Hyde,  who  had 

THE    REIGN    OF    CHARLES    THE    SECOND  207 

recently  been  created  Earl  of  Rochester.  Of  all  Tories, 
Rochester  was  the  most  intolerant  and  uncompromising. 
The  moderate  members  of  his  party  complained  that  the 
whole  patronage  of  the  Treasury,  while  he  was  First  Commis- 
sioner there,  went  to  noisy  zealots,  whose  only  claim  to 
promotion  was  that  they  were  always  drinking  confusion  to 
Whiggery,  and  lighting  bonfires  to  burn  the  Exclusion  Bill. 
The  Duke  of  York,  pleased  with  a  spirit  which  so  much 
resembled  his  own,  supported  his  brother  in  law  passionately 
and  obstinately. 

The  attempts  of  the  rival  ministers  to  surmount  and  supplant 
each  other  kept  the  court  in  incessant  agitation.  Halifax 
pressed  the  King  to  summon  a  Parliament,  to  grant  a  general 
amnesty,  to  deprive  the  Duke  of  York  of  all  share  in  the 
government,  to  recall  Monmouth  from  banishment,  to  break 
with  Lewis,  and  to  form  a  close  union  with  Holland  on  the 
principles  of  the  Triple  Alliance.  The  Duke  of  York,  on  the 
other  hand,  dreaded  the  meeting  of  a  Parliament,  regarded  the 
vanquished  Whigs  with  undiminished  hatred,  still  flattered 
himself  that  the  design  formed  fourteen  years  before  at  Dover 
might  be  accomplished,  daily  represented  to  his  brother  the 
impropriety  of  suffering  one  who  was  at  heart  a  Republican  to 
hold  the  Privy  Seal,  and  strongly  recommended  Rochester  for 
the  great  place  of  Lord  Treasurer. 

While  the  two  factions  were  struggling,  Godolphin,  cautious, 
silent,  and  laborious,  observed  a  neutrality  between  them. 
Sunderland,  with  his  usual  restless  perfidy,  intrigued  against 
them  both.  He  had  been  turned  out  of  oflSce  in  disgrace 
for  having  voted  in  favour  of  the  Exclusion  Bill,  but  had  made 
his  peace  by  employing  the  good  offices  of  the  Duchess  of 
Portsmouth  and  by  cringing  to  the  Duke  of  York,  and  was 
once  more  Secretary  of  State. 

Nor  was  Lewis  negligent  or  inactive.  Every  thing  at  that 
moment  favoured  his  designs.  He  had  nothing  to  apprehend 
from  the  German  empire,  which  was  then  contending  against 
the  Turks  on  the  Danube.  Holland  could  not,  unsupported, 
venture  to  oppose  him.  He  was  therefore  at  liberty  to  indulge 
his  ambition  and  insolence  without  restraint.  He  seized  Dix- 
mude  and  Courtray.  He  bombarded  Luxemburg.  He  exacted 
from  the  republic  of  Genoa  the  most  humiliating  submissions. 
The  power  of  France  at  that  time  reached  a  higher  point  than 
it  ever  before  or  ever  after  attained,  during  the  ten  centuries 
which  separated  the  reign  of  Charlemagne  and  the  reign  of 
Napoleon.      It  was  not  easy  to  say  where   her  acquisitions 


would  stop,  if  only  England  could  be  kept  in  a  state  of 
vassalage.  The  first  object  of  the  court  of  Versailles  was 
therefore  to  prevent  the  calling  of  a  Parliament  and  the 
reconciliation  of  English  parties.  For  this  end  bribes,  promises, 
and  menaces  were  unsparingly  employed.  Charles  was  some- 
times allured  by  the  hope  of  a  subsidy,  and  sometimes 
frightened  by  being  told  that,  if  he  convoked  the  Houses,  the 
secret  articles  of  the  treaty  of  Dover  should  be  published. 
Several  Privy  Councillors  were  bought ;  and  attempts  were 
made  to  buy  Halifax,  but  in  vain.  When  he  had  been  found 
incorruptible,  all  the  art  and  influence  of  the  French  embassy 
were  employed  to  drive  him  from  office :  but  his  polished  wit 
and  his  various  accomplishments  had  made  him  so  agreeable 
to  his  master,  that  the  design  failed.* 

Halifax  was  not  content  with  standing  on  the  defensive.  He 
openly  accused  Rochester  of  malversation.  An  inquiry  took 
place.  It  appeared  that  forty  thousand  pounds  had  been  lost 
to  the  public  by  the  mismanagement  of  the  First  Lord  of  the 
Treasury.  In  consequence  of  this  discovery  he  was  not  only 
forced  to  relinquish  his  hopes  of  the  white  staff,  but  was 
removed  from  the  direction  of  the  finances  to  the  more 
dignified  but  less  lucrative  and  important  post  of  Lord  Presi- 
dent. "  I  have  seen  people  kicked  down  stairs,"  said  Halifax, 
"  but  my  Lord  Rochester  is  the  first  person  that  I  ever  saw 
kicked  up  stairs."  Godolphin,  now  a  peer,  became  First 
Commissioner  of  the  Treasury. 

Still,  however,  the  contest  continued.  The  event  depended 
wholly  on  the  will  of  Charles  ;  and  Charles  could  not  come  to 
a  decision.  In  his  perplexity  he  promised  everything  to  every- 
body. He  would  stand  by  France :  he  would  break  with 
France :  he  would  never  meet  another  Parliament :  he  would 
order  writs  for  a  Parliament  to  be  issued '  without  delay.  He 
assured  the  Duke  of  York  that  Halifax  should  be  dismissed 
from  office,  and  Halifax  that  the  Duke  should  be  sent  to 
Scotland.    In  public  he  affected  implacable  resentment  against 

*  Lord  Preston,  who  was  envoy  at  Paris,  wrote  thence  to  Halifax  as 
follows  : — "  I  find  that  your  lordship  lies  still  under  the  same  misfortune  of 
being  no  favourite  to  this  court ;  and  Monsieur  Barillon  dare  not  do  you 
the  honour  to  shine  upon  you,  since  his  master  frowneth.  They  know  very 
well  your  lordship's  qualifications,  which  make  them  fear  and  consequently 
hate  you :  and  be  assured,  my  lord,  if  all  their  strength  can  send  you  to 
Rufford,  it  shall  be  employed  for  that  end.  Two  things,  I  hear,  they  par- 
ticularly object  against  you,  your  secrecy,  and  your  being  incapable  of  being 
corrupted.  Against  these  two  things  I  know  they  have  declared."  The 
date  of  the  letter  is  October  5.  N.  s.  1683. 

ENGLAND    IN     1 685  209 

Monmouth,  and  in  private  conveyed  to  Monmouth  assurances 
of  unalterable  affection.  How  long,  if  the  King's  life  had  been 
protracted,  his  hesitation  might  have  lasted,  and  what  would 
have  been  his  resolve,  can  only  be  conjectured.  Early  in  the 
year  1685,  while  hostile  parties  were  anxiously  awaiting  his 
determination,  he  died,  and  a  new  scene  opened.  In  a  few 
months  the  excesses  of  the  government  obliterated  the  impres- 
sion which  had  been  made  on  the  public  mind  by  the  excesses 
of  the  opposition.  The  violent  reaction  which  had  laid  the 
Whig  party  prostrate  was  followed  by  a  still  more  violent 
reaction  in  the  opposite  direction ;  and  signs  not  to  be 
mistaken  indicated  that  the  great  conflict  between  the  prerog- 
atives of  the  crown  and  the  privileges  of  the  Parliament,  was 
about  to  be  brought  to  a  final  issue. 


I  INTEND,  in  this  chapter,  to  give  a  description  of  the  state 
in  which  England  was  at  the  time  when  the  crown  passed  from 
Charles  the  Second  to  his  brother.  Such  a  description,  com- 
posed from  scanty  and  dispersed  materials,  must  necessarily  be 
very  imperfect.  Yet  it  may  perhaps  correct  some  false  notions 
which  would  make  the  subsequent  narrative  uninteUigible  or 

If  we  would  study  with  profit  the  history  of  our  ancestors, 
we  must  be  constantly  on  our  guard  against  that  delusion 
which  the  well  known  names  of  families,  places,  and  offices 
naturally  produce,  and  must  never  forget  that  the  country  of 
which  we  read  was  a  very  different  country  from  that  in  which 
we  live.  In  every  experimental  science  there  is  a  tendency 
towards  perfection.  In  every  human  being  there  is  a  wish  to 
ameliorate  his  own  condition.  These  two  principles  have  often 
sufficed,  even  when  counteracted  by  great  pubfic  calamities 
and  by  bad  institutions,  to  carry  civilisation  rapidly  forward. 
No  ordinary  misfortune,  no  ordinary  misgovernment,  will  do 
so  much  to  make  a  nation  wretched,  as  the  constant  progress 
of  physical  knowledge  and  the  constant  effort  of  every  man  to 
better  himself  will  do  to  make  a  nation  prosperous.  It  has 
often  been  found  that  profuse  expenditure,  heavy  taxation, 
absurd   commercial  restrictions,    corrupt   tribunals,  disastrous 


wars,  seditions,  persecutions,  conflagrations,  inundations,  have 
not  been  able  to  destroy  capital  so  fast  as  the  exertions  of 
private  citizens  have  been  able  to  create  it.  It  can  easily  be 
proved  that,  in  our  own  land,  the  national  wealth  has,  during 
at  least  six  centuries,  been  almost  uninterruptedly  increasing ; 
that  it  was  greater  under  the  Tudors  than  under  the  Planta- 
genets ;  that  it  was  greater  under  the  Stuarts  than  under  the 
Tudors ;  that,  in  spite  of  battles,  sieges,  and  confiscations,  it 
was  greater  on  the  day  of  the  Restoration  than  on  the  day 
when  the  Long  Parliament  met ;  that,  in  spite  of  maladminis- 
tration, of  extravagance,  of  public  bankruptcy,  of  tvvo  costly 
and  unsuccessful  wars,  of  the  pestilence  and  of  the  fire,  it  was 
greater  on  the  day  of  the  death  of  Charles  the  Second  than  on 
the  day  of  his  Restoration.  This  progress,  having  continued 
during  many  ages,  became  at  length,  about  the  middle  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  portentously  rapid,  and  has  proceeded, 
during  the  nineteenth,  with  accelerated  velocity.  In  con- 
sequence partly  of  our  geographical  and  partly  of  our  moral 
position,  we  have,  during  several  generations,  been  exempt 
from  evils  which  have  elsewhere  impeded  the  efforts  and 
destroyed  the  fruits  of  industry.  While  every  part  of  the 
Continent,  from  Moscow  to  Lisbon,  has  been  the  theatre  of 
bloody  and  devastating  wars,  no  hostile  standard  has  been  seen 
here  but  as  a  trophy.  While  revolutions  have  taken  place  all 
around  us,  our  government  has  never  once  been  subverted  by 
violence.  During  a  hundred  years  there  has  been  in  our 
island  no  tumult  of  sufficient  importance  to  be  called  an  insur- 
rection. The  law  has  never  been  borne  down  either  by  popular 
fury  or  by  regal  tyranny.  Public  credit  has  been  held  sacred. 
The  administration  of  justice  has  been  pure.  Even  in  times 
which  might  by  Englishmen  be  justly  called  evil  times,  we  have 
enjoyed  what  almost  every  other  nation  in  the  world  would 
have  considered  as  an  ample  measure  of  civil  and  religious 
freedom.  Every  man  has  felt  entire  confidence  that  the  state 
would  protect  him  in  the  possession  of  what  had  been  earned 
by  his  diligence  and  hoarded  by  his  selfdenial.  Under  the 
benignant  influence  of  peace  and  liberty,  science  has  flourished, 
and  has  been  applied  to  practical  purposes  on  a  scale  never 
before  known.  The  consequence  is  that  a  change  to  which  the 
history  of  the  old  world  furnishes  no  parallel  has  taken  place 
in  our  country.  Could  the  England  of  1685  be,  by  some 
magical  process,  set  before  our  eyes,  we  should  not  know  one 
landscape  in  a  hundred  or  one  building  in  ten  thousand.  The 
country  gentleman  would  not  recognise  his  own  fields.     The 

ENGLAND    IN     1 685  211 

inhabitant  of  the  town  would  not  recognise  his  own  street. 
Everything  has  been  changed,  but  the  great  features  of  nature, 
and  a  few  massive  and  durable  works  of  human  art.  We 
might  find  out  Snowdon  and  Windermere,  the  Cheddar  Cliffs 
and  Beachy  Head.  We  might  find  out  here  and  there  a 
Norman  minster,  or  a  castle  which  witnessed  the  wars  of  the 
Roses.  But,  with  such  rare  exceptions,  everything  would  be 
strange  to  us.  Many  thousands  of  square  miles  which  are 
now  rich  corn  land  and  meadow,  intersected  by  green  hedge- 
rows, and  dotted  with  villages  and  pleasant  country  seats, 
would  appear  as  moors  overgrown  with  furze,  or  fens  aban- 
doned to  wild  ducks.  We  should  see  straggling  huts  built  of 
wood  and  covered  with  thatch,  where  we  now  see  manufacturing 
towns  and  seaports  renowned  to  the  farthest  ends  of  the  world. 
The  capital  itself  would  shrink  to  dimensions  not  much 
exceeding  those  of  its  present  suburb  on  the  south  of  the 
Thames.  Not  less  strange  to  us  would  be  the  garb  and 
manners  of  the  people,  the  furniture  and  the  equipages,  the 
interior  of  the  shops  and  dwellings.  Such  a  change  in  the  state 
of  a  nation  seems  to  be  at  least  as  well  entitled  to  the  notice  of 
a  historian  as  any  change  of  the  dynasty  or  of  the  ministry. 

One  of  the  first  objects  of  an  inquirer,  who  wishes  to  form  a 
correct  notion  of  the  state  of  a  community  at  a  given  time, 
must  be  to  ascertain  of  how  many  persons  that  community  then 
consisted.  Unfortunately  the  population  of  England  in  1685 
cannot  be  ascertained  with  perfect  accuracy.  For  no  great  state 
had  then  adopted  the  wise  course  of  periodically  numbering 
the  people.  All  men  were  left  to  conjecture  for  themselves  ; 
and,  as  they  generally  conjectured  without  examining  facts, 
and  under  the  influence  of  strong  passions  and  prejudices, 
their  guesses  were  often  ludicrously  absurd.  Even  intelligent 
Londoners  ordinarily  talked  of  London  as  containing  several 
millions  of  souls.  It  was  confidently  asserted  by  many  that, 
during  the  thirty-five  years  which  had  elapsed  between  the 
accession  of  Charles  the  First  and  the  Restoration,  the  popu- 
lation of  the  city  had  increased  by  two  millions."  Even  while 
the  ravages  of  the  plague  and  fire  were  recent,  it  was  the 
fashion  to  say  that  the  capital  still  had  a  million  and  a  half  of 
inhabitants.t     Some  persons,  disgusted  by  these  exaggerations, 

*  Observations  on  the  Bills  of  Mortality,  by  Captain  John  Graunt  (Sii 
William  Petty),  chap.  xi. 

t  "  She  doth  comprehend 

Full  fifteen  hundred  thousand  which  do  spend 
Their  days  within." 

Great  Britain's  Beauty,  1671. 


ran  violently  into  the  opposite  extreme.  Thus  Isaac  Vossius, 
a  man  of  undoubted  parts  and  learning,  strenuously  maintained 
that  there  were  only  two  millions  of  human  beings  in  England, 
Scotland,  and  Ireland  taken  together.* 

We  are  not,  however,  left  without  the  means  of  correcting 
the  wild  blunders  into  which  some  minds  were  hurried  by 
national  vanity  and  others  by  a  morbid  love  of  paradox. 
There  are  extant  three  computations  which  seem  to  be  entitled 
to  peculiar  attention.  They  are  entirely  independent  of  each 
other :  they  proceed  on  different  principles ;  and  yet  there  is 
little  difference  in  the  results. 

One  of  these  computations  was  made  in  the  year  1696  by 
Gregory  King,  Lancaster  herald,  a  political  arithmetician  of 
great  acuteness  and  judgment.  The  basis  of  his  calculations 
was  the  number  of  houses  returned  in  1690  by  the  officers  who 
made  the  last  collection  of  the  hearth  money.  The  conclusion 
at  which  he  arrived  was  that  the  population  of  England  was 
nearly  five  millions  and  a  half.t 

About  the  same  time  King  William  the  Third  was  desirous 
to  ascertain  the  comparative  strength  of  the  religious  sects  into 
which  the  community  was  divided.  An  inquiry  was  instituted; 
and  reports  were  laid  before  him  from  all  the  dioceses  of  the 
realm.  According  to  these  reports  the  number  of  his  English 
subjects  must  have  been  about  five  million  two  hundred 
thousand.  J 

Lastly,  in  our  own  days,  Mr.  Finlaison,  an  actuary  of 
eminent  skill,  subjected  the  ancient  parochial  registers  to  all 
the  tests  which  the  modern  improvements  in  statistical  science 
enabled  him  to  apply.  His  opinion  was,  that,  at  the  close  of 
the  seventeenth  century,  the  population  of  England  was  a  little 
under  five  million  two  hundred  thousand  souls.  § 

Of  these  three  estimates,  framed  without  concert  by  different 
persons  from  different  sets  of  materials,  the  highest,  which  is 
that  of  King,  does  not  exceed  the  lowest,  which  is  that  of 

*  Isaac  Vossius,  De  Magnitudine  Urbium  Sinarum,  1685.  Vossius,  as 
we  learn  from  St.  Evremond,  talked  on  this  subject  oftener  and  longer 
than  fashionable  circles  cared  to  listen. 

t  King's  Natural  and  Political  Observations,  1696.  This  valuable 
treatise,  which  ought  to  be  read  as  the  author  wrote  it,  and  not  as  garbled 
by  Davenant,  will  be  found  in  some  editions  of  Chalmers's  Estimate. 

J  Dali-ymple's  Appendix  to  Part  II.  Book  I.  The  practice  of  reckoning 
the  population  by  sects  was  long  fashionable.  Gulliver  says  of  the  King  of 
Brobdingnag,  "  He  laughed  at  my  odd  arithmetic,  as  he  was  pleased  to 
call  it,  in  reckoning  the  numbers  of  our  people  by  a  computation  drawn 
from  the  several  sects  among  us  in  religion  and  politics. " 

§  Preface  to  the  Population  Returns  of  183 1. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  213 

Finlaison,  by  one  twelfth.  We  may,  therefore,  with  confidence 
pronounce  that,  when  James  the  Second  reigned,  England 
contained  between  five  miUion  and  five  million  five  hundred 
thousand  inhabitants.  On  the  very  highest  supposition  she 
then  had  less  than  one  third  of  her  present  population,  and 
less  than  three  times  the  population  which  is  now  collected  in 
her  tiigantic  capital. 

The  increase  of  the  people  has  been  great  in  every  part  ot 
the  kingdom,  but  generally  much  greater  in  the  northern  than 
in  the  southern  shires.  In  truth  a  large  part  of  the  country 
beyond  Trent  was,  down  to  the  eighteenth  century,  in  a  state 
of  barbarism.  Physical  and  moral  causes  had  concurred  to 
prevent  civilisation  from  spreading  to  that  region.  The  air 
was  inclement ;  the  soil  was  generally  such  as  required  skilful 
and  industrious  cultivation ;  and  there  could  be  little  skill  or 
industry  in  a  tract  which  was  often  the  theatre  of  war,  and 
which,  even  when  there  was  nominal  peace,  was  constantly 
desolated  by  bands  of  Scottish  piarauders.  Before  the  union 
of  the  two  British  crowns,  and  long  after  that  union,  there  was 
as  great  a  difference  between  Middlesex  and  Northumberland 
as  there  now  is  between  Massachusetts  and  the  settlements  of 
those  squatters  who,  far  to  the  west  of  the  Mississippi,  administer 
a  rude  justice  with  the  rifle  and  the  dagger.  In  the  reign  of 
Charles  the  Second,  the  traces  left  by  ages  of  slaughter  and 
pillage  were  still  distinctly  perceptible,  many  miles  south  of  the 
Tweed,  in  the  face  of  the  country  and  in  the  lawless  manners 
of  the  people.  There  was  still  a  large  class  of  mosstroopers, 
whose  calling  was  to  plunder  dwellings  and  to  drive  away 
whole  herds  of  cattle.  It  was  found  necessary,  soon  after  the 
Restoration,  to  enact  laws  of  great  severity  for  the  prevention 
of  these  outrages.  The  magistrates  of  Northumberland  and 
Cumberland  were  authorised  to  raise  bands  of  armed  men  for 
the  defence  of  property  and  order  ;  and  provision  was  made 
for  meeting  the  expense  of  these  levies  by  local  taxation.* 
The  parishes  were  required  to  keep  bloodhounds  for  the 
purpose,  of  hunting  the  freebooters.  Many  old  men  who  were 
living  in  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century  could  well 
remember  the  time  when  those  ferocious  dogs  were  common. f 
Yet,  even  with  such  auxiliaries,  it  was  often  found  impossible 
to   track  the  robbers  to  their  retreats  among  the   hills   and 

*  Statutes  14  Car.  II.  c.  22.  ;  18  &  19  Car.  II.  c.  3.  ;  29  &  30  Car.  II. 
c.  2. 

t  Nicholson  and  Bourne,  Discourse  on  the  Ancient  State  of  the  Border, 


morasses.  For  the  geography  of  that  wild  country  was  very 
imperfectly  known.  Even  after  the  accession  of  George  the 
Third,  the  path  over  the  fells  from  Borrowdale  to  Ravenglas 
was  still  a  secret  carefully  kept  by  the  dalesmen,  some  of  whom 
had  probably  in  their  youth  escaped  from  the  pursuit  of 
justice  by  that  road.*  The  seats  of  the  gentry  and  the  larger 
farmhouses  were  fortified.  Oxen  were  penned  at  night  beneath 
the  overhanging  battlements  of  the  residence,  which  was  known 
by  the  name  of  Peel.  The  inmates  slept  with  arms  at  their 
sides.  Huge  stones  and  boiling  water  were  in  readiness  to 
crush  and  scald  the  plunderer  who  might  venture  to  assail  the 
little  garrison.  No  traveller  ventured  into  that  country  with- 
out making  his  will.  The  Judges  on  circuit,  with  the  whole 
body  of  barristers,  attorneys,  clerks,  and  serving  men,  rode  on 
horseback  from  Newcastle  to  Carlisle,  armed  and  escorted  by 
a  strong  guard  under  the  command  of  the  Sheriffs.  It  was 
necessary  to  carry  provisions  ;  for  the  country  was  a  wilderness 
which  afforded  no  supplies.  ,  The  spot  where  the  cavalcade 
halted  to  dine,  under  an  immense  oak,  is  not  yet  forgotten. 
The  irregular  vigour  with  which  criminal  justice  was  adminis- 
tered shocked  observers  whose  life  had  been  passed  in  more 
tranquil  districts.  Juries,  animated  by  hatred  and  by  a  sense 
of  common  danger,  convicted  housebreakers  and  cattle  stealers 
with  the  promptitude  of  a  court  martial  in  a  mutiny ;  and  the 
convicts  were  hurried  by  scores  to  the  gallows,  t  Within  the 
memory  of  some  whom  this  generation  has  seen,  the  sportsman 
who  wandered  in  pursuit  of  game  to  the  sources  of  the  Tyne 
found  the  heaths  round  Keeldar  Castle  peopled  by  a  race 
scarcely  less  savage  than  the  Indians  of  California,  and  heard 
with  surprise  the  half  naked  women  chaunting  a  wild  measure, 
while  the  men  with  brandished  dirks  danced  a  war  dance.  J 

Slowly  and  with  difficulty  peace  was  established  on  the 
border.  In  the  train  of  peace  came  industry  and  all  the  arts 
of  life.  Meanwhile  it  was  discovered  that  the  regions  north  of 
the  Trent  possessed  in  their  coal  beds  a  source  of  wealth  far 
more  precious  than  the  gold  mines  of  Peru.  It  was  found 
that,  in  the  neighbourhood  of  these  beds,  almost  every  manu- 
facture might  be  most  profitably  carried  on.  A  constant  stream 
of  emigrants  began  to  roll   northward.     It  appeared  by  the 

*  Gray's  Journal  of  a  Tour  in  the  Lakes,  Oct.  3,  1769. 

t  North's  Life  of  Guildford.  Hutchinson's  History  of  Cumberland, 
parish  of  Brampton. 

X  See  Sir  Walter  Scott's  Journal,  Oct.  7,  1827,  in  his  Life  by  Mr. 

ENGLAND     IN     1685  215 

returns  of  1841  that  the  ancient  archiepiscopal  province  of 
York  contained  two  sevenths  of  the  population  of  England. 
At  the  time  of  the  Revolution  that  province  was  believed  to 
contain  only  one  seventh  of  the  population.*  In  Lancashire 
the  number  of  inhabitants  appears  to  have  increased  ninefold, 
while  in  Norfolk,  Suffolk,  and  Northamptonshire  it  has  hardly 

Of  the  taxation  we  can  speak  with  more  confidence  and 
precision  than  of  the  population.  The  revenue  of  England, 
when  Charles  the  Second  died,  was  small,  when  compared  with 
the  resources  which  she  even  then  possessed,  or  with  the  sums 
which  were  raised  by  the  governments  of  the  neighbouring 
countries.  It  had,  from  the  time  of  the  Restoration,  been 
almost  constantly  increasing  :  yet  it  was  little  more  than  three 
fourths  of  the  revenue  of  the  United  Provinces,  and  was 
hardly  one  fifth  of  the  revenue  of  France. 

The  most  important  head  of  receipt  was  the  excise,  which, 
in  the  last  year  of  the  reign  of  Charles,  produced  five  hundred 
and  eighty-five  thousand  pounds,  clear  of  all  deductions.  The 
net  proceeds  of  the  customs  amounted  in  the  same  year  to 
five  hundred  and  thirty  thousand  pounds.  These  burdens  did 
not  lie  very  heavy  on  the  nation.  The  tax  on  chimneys, 
though  less  productive,  raised  far  louder  murmurs.  The  dis- 
content excited  by  direct  imposts  is,  indeed,  almost  always  out 
of  proportion  to  the  quantity  of  money  which  they  bring  into 
the  Exchequer ;  and  the  tax  on  chimneys  was,  even  among 
direct  imposts,  peculiarly  odious  :  for  it  could  be  levied  only 
by  means  of  domiciliary  visits  ;  and  of  such  visits  the  English 
have  always  been  impatient  to  a  degree  which  the  people  of 
other  countries  can  but  faintly  conceive.  The  poorer  house- 
holders were  frequently  unable  to  pay  their  hearth  money  to 
the  day.  When  this  happened,  their  furniture  was  distrained 
without  mercy  :  for  the  tax  was  farmed ;  and  a  farmer  of  taxes 
is,  of  all  creditors,  proverbially  the  most  rapacious.  The 
collectors  were  loudly  accused  of  performing  their  unpopular 
duty  with  harshness  and  insolence.  It  was  said  that,  as  soon 
as  they  appeared  at  the  threshold  of  a  cottage,  the  children 
began  to  wail,  and  the  old  women  ran  to  hide  their  earthen- 

*  Dalrymple,  Appendix  to  Part  II.  Book  I.  The  returns  of  the  hearth 
money  lead  to  nearly  the  same  conclusion.  The  hearths  in  the  province  of 
York  were  not  a  sixth  of  the  hearths  of  England. 

t  I  do  not,  of  course,  pretend  to  strict  accuracy  here  ;  but  I  believe  that 
whoever  will  take  the  trouble  to  compare  the  last  returns  of  hearth  money 
in  the  reign  of  William  the  Third  with  the  census  of  1S41,  will  come  to  a 
conclusion  not  very  different  from  mine. 


ware.  Nay,  the  single  bed  of  a  poor  family  had  sometimes 
been  carried  away  and  sold.  The  net  annual  receipt  from  this 
tax  was  two  hundred  thousand  pounds.* 

When  to  the  three  great  sources  of  income  which  have  been 
mentioned  we  add  the  royal  domains,  then  far  more  extensive 
than  at  present,  the  first  fruits  and  tenths,  which  had  not  yet 
been  surrendered  to  the  Church,  the  Duchies  of  Cornwall  and 
Lancaster,  the  forfeitures  and  the  fines,  we  shall  find  that  the 
whole  annual  revenue  of  the  crown  may  be  fairly  estimated  at 
about  fourteen  hundred  thousand  pounds.  Of  this  revenue 
part  was  hereditary :  the  rest  had  been  granted  to  Charles  for 
life ;  and  he  was  at  liberty  to  lay  out  the  whole  exactly  as 
he  thought  fit.  Whatever  he  could  save  by  retrenching  the 
expenditure  of  the  public  departments  was  an  addition  to  his 
privy  purse.  Of  the  Post  Office,  more  will  hereafter  be  said. 
The  profits  of  that  establishment  had  been  appropriated  by 
Parliament  to  the  Duke  of  York. 

The  King's  revenue  was,  or  rather  ought  to  have  been, 
charged  with  the  payment  of  about  eighty  thousand  pounds  a 
year,  the  interest  of  the  sum  fraudulently  detained  in  the 
Exchequer  by  the  Cabal.  While  Danby  was  at  the  head  of  the 
finances,  the  creditors  had  received  their  dividends,  though 
not  with  the  strict  punctuality  of  modern  times  :  but  those  who 
had  succeeded  him  at  the  Treasury  had  been  less  expert,  or 
less  solicitous  to  maintain  public  faith.  Since  the  victory  won 
by  the  court  over  the  Whigs,  not  a  farthing  had  been  paid ; 
and  no  redress  was  granted  to  the  sufferers,  till  a  new  dynasty 
had  established  a  new  system.  There  can  be  no  greater  error 
than  to  imagine  that  the  device  of  meeting  the  exigencies  of 

*  There  are  in  the  Pepysian  Library,  some  ballads  of  that  age  on  the 
chimney  money.     I  will  give  a  specimen  or  two  : — 

"  The  good  old  dames,  whenever  they  the  chimney  man  espied, 
Unto  their  nooks  they  haste  away,  their  pots  and  pipkins  hide. 
There  is  not  one  old  dame  in  ten,  and  search  the  nation  through, 
But,  if  you  talk  of  chimney  men,  will  spare  a  curse  or  two." 

"  Like  plundering  soldiers  they'd  enter  the  door, 
'■  And  make  a  distress  on  the  goods  of  the  poor, 

While  frighted  poor  children  distractedly  cried : 
This  nothing  abated  their  insolent  pride." 
In  the  British  Museum  there  are  doggrel  verses  composed  on  the  same 
subject  and  in  the  same  spirit  : 

"  Or,  if  through  poverty  it  be  not  paid. 
For  cnxelty  to  tear  away  the  single  bed, 
On  which  the  poor  man  rests  his  weary  head, 
At  once  deprives  him  of  his  rest  and  bread." 
I  take  this  opportunity,  the  first  which  occurs,  of  acknowledging  most 
gratefully  the  kind  and  liberal  manner  in  which  the  Master  and  Vicem aster 
of  Magdalene  College,  Cambridge,  gave  me  access  to  the  valuable  collec- 
tions of  Pepys. 

ENGLAND     IN     1 685  217 

the  State  by  loans  was  imported  into  our  island  by  William  the 
Third.  From  a  period  of  immemorial  antiquity  it  had  been 
the  practice  of  every  English  government  to  contract  debts. 
What  the  Revolution  introduced  was  the  practice  of  honestly 
paying  them.* 

By  plundering  the  public  creditor,  it  was  possible  to  make 
an  income  of  about  fourteen  hundred  thousand  pounds,  with 
some  occasional  help  from  France,  support  the  necessary  charges 
of  the  government  and  the  wasteful  expenditure  of  the  court. 
For  that  load  which  pressed  most  heavily  on  the  finances  of 
the  great  continental  states  was  here  scarcely  felt.  In  France, 
Germany,  and  the  Netherlands,  armies,  such  as  Henry  the 
Fourth  and  Philip  the  Second  had  never  employed  in  time  of 
war,  were  kept  up  in  the  midst  of  peace.  Bastions  and 
ravelins  were  everywhere  rising,  constructed  on  principles  un- 
known to  Parma  or  Spinola.  Stores  of  artillery  and  ammunition 
were  accumulated,  such  as  even  Richelieu,  whom  the  preceding 
generation  had  regarded  as  a  worker  of  prodigies,  would  have 
pronounced  fabulous.  No  man  could  journey  many  leagues  in 
those  countries  without  hearing  the  drums  of  a  regiment  on 
march,  or  being  challenged  by  the  sentinels  on  the  drawbridge 
of  a  fortress.  In  our  island,  on  the  contrary,  it  was  possible  to 
live  long  and  to  travel  far,  without  being  once  reminded,  by 
any  martial  sight  or  sound,  that  the  defence  of  nations  had 
become  a  science  and  a  calling.  The  majority  of  Englishmen 
who  were  under  twenty-five  years  of  age  had  probably  never 
seen  a  company  of  regular  soldiers.  Of  the  cities  which,  in  the 
civil  war,  had  valiantly  repelled  hostile  armies,  scarce  one  was 
now  capable  of  sustaining  a  siege.  The  gates  stood  open 
night  and  day.  The  ditches  were  dry.  The  ramparts  had 
been  suffered  to  fall  into  decay,  or  were  repaired  only  that  the 
townsfolk  might  have  a  pleasant  walk  on  summer  evenings. 
Of  the  old  baronial  keeps  many  had  been  shattered  by  the 
cannon  of  Fairfax  and  Cromwell,  and  lay  in  heaps  of  ruin, 
overgrown  with  ivy.  Those  which  remained  had  lost  their 
martial  character,  and  were  now  rural  palaces  of  the  aristocracy. 
The  moats  were  turned  into  preserves  of  carp  and  pike.  The 
mounds  were  planted  with  fragrant  shrubs,  through  which 
spiral  walks  ran  up  to  summer  houses  adorned  with  mirrors 
and  paintings!.     On  the  capes  of  the  sea  coast,  and  on  many 

*  My  chief  authorities  for  this  financial  statement  will  be  found  in  the 
Commons'  Journals,  March  i,  and  March  20,  i68f. 

t  See  for  example  the  picture  of  the  mound  at  Marlborough,  in  Stukeley's 
Itinerarium  Curiosum. 

2  I  8  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

inland  hills,  were  still  seen  tall  posts,  surmounted  by  barrels. 
Once  those  barrels  had  been  filled  with  pitch.  Watchmen  had 
been  set  round  them  in  seasons  of  danger ;  and,  within  a  few 
hours  after  a  Spanish  sail  had  been  discovered  in  the  Channel, 
or  after  a  thousand  Scottish  mosstroopers  had  crossed  the 
Tweed,  the  signal  fires  v/ere  blazing  fifty  miles  off,  and  v/hole 
counties  were  rising  in  arms.  But  many  years  had  now  elapsed 
since  the  beacons  had  been  lighted ;  and  they  were  regarded 
rather  as  curious  relics  of  ancient  manners  than  as  parts  of  a 
machinery  necessary  to  the  safety  of  the  state.* 

The  only  army  which  the  law  recognised  was  the  militia. 
That  force  had  been  remodelled  by  two  Acts  of  Parliament 
passed  shortly  after  the  Restoration.  Every  man  who 
possessed  five  hundred  pounds  a  year  derived  from  land,  or 
six  thousand  pounds  of  personal  estate,  was  bound  to  provide, 
equip,  and  pay,  at  his  own  charge,  one  horseman.  Every  man 
who  had  fifty  pounds  a  year  derived  from  land,  or  six  hundred 
pounds  of  personal  estate,  was  charged  in  like  manner  with 
one  pikeman  or  musketeer.  Smaller  proprietors  were  joined 
together  in  a  kind  of  society,  for  which  our  language  does  not 
afford  a  special  name,  but  which  an  Athenian  would  have 
called  a  Synteleia;  and  each  society  was  required  to  furnish, 
according  to  its  means,  a  horse  soldier  or  a  foot  soldier.  The 
whole  number  of  cavalry  and  infantry  thus  maintained  was 
popularly  estimated  at  a  hundred  and  thirty  thousand  men.t 

The  King  was,  by  the  ancient  constitution  of  the  realm,  and 
by  the  recent  and  solemn  acknowledgment  of  both  Houses  of 
Parliament,  the  sole  Captain  General  of  this  large  force.  The 
Lord  Lieutenants  and  their  Deputies  held  the  command  under 
him,  and  appointed  meetings  for  drilhng  and  inspection.  The 
time  occupied  by  such  meetings,  however,  was  not  to  exceed 
fourteen  days  in  one  year.  The  Justices  of  the  Peace  were 
authorised  to  inflict  slight  penalties  for  breaches  of  discipline. 
Of  the  ordinary  cost  no  part  was  paid  by  the  crown :  but, 
when  the  trainbands  were  called  out  against  an  enemy,  their 
subsistence  became  a  charge  on  the  general  revenue  of  the 
state,  and  they  were  subject  to  the  utmost  rigour  of  martial 

There  were  those  who  looked  on  the  militia  with  no  friendly 
eye.  Men  who  had  travelled  much  on  the  Continent,  who 
had  marvelled  at  the  stern  precision  with  which  every  sentinel 

*  Chamberlayne's  State  of  England,  1684. 

t  13  &  14  Car.  II.  c.  3  ;  15  Car.  II.  c.  4.  Chamberlayne's  State  of 
England,  1684, 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  2  I  <) 

moved  and  spoke  in  the  citadels  built  by  Vauban,  who  had 
seen  the  mighty  armies  which  poured  along  all  the  roads  of 
Germany  to  chase  the  Ottoman  from  the  gates  of  Vienna,  and 
who  had  been  dazzled  by  the  well  ordered  pomp  of  the  house- 
hold troops  of  Lewis,  sneered  much  at  the  way  in  which  the 
peasants  of  Devonshire  and  Yorkshire  marched  and  wheeled, 
shouldered  muskets  and  ported  pikes.  The  enemies  of  the 
liberties  and  religion  of  England  looked  with  aversion  on  a 
force  which  could  not,  without  extreme  risk,  be  employed 
against  those  liberties  and  that  religion,  and  missed  no  oppor- 
tunity of  throwing  ridicule  on  the  rustic  soldiery.*  Enlightened 
patriots,  when  they  contrasted  these  rude  levies  with  the  bat- 
talions which,  in  time  of  war,  a  few  hours  might  bring  to  the 
coast  of  Kent  or  Sussex,  were  forced  to  acknowledge  that, 
dangerous  as  it  might  be  to  keep  up  a  permanent  military 
establishment,  it  might  be  more  dangerous  still  to  stake  the 
honour  and  independence  of  the  country  on  the  result  of  a 
contest  between  ploughmen  officered  by  Justices  of  the  Peace, 
and  veteran  warriors  led  by  Marshals  of  France.  In  Parlia- 
ment, however,  it  was  necessary  to  express  such  opinions  with 
some  reserve ;  for  the  militia  was  an  institution  eminently 
popular.  Every  reflection  thrown  on  it  excited  the  indignation 
of  both  the  great  parties  in  the  state,  and  especially  of  that 
party  which  was  distinguished  by  peculiar  zeal  for  monarchy 
and  for  the  Anglican  Church.  The  array  of  the  counties  was 
commanded  almost  exclusively  by  Tory  noblemen  and  gentle- 
men. They  were  proud  of  their  military  rank,  and  considered 
an  insult  offered  to  the  service  to  which  they  belonged  as 
offered  to  themselves.  They  were  also  perfectly  aware  that 
whatever  was  said  against  a  militia  was  said  in  favour  of  a 
standing  army ;  and  the  name  of  standing  army  was  hateful 
to  them.  One  such  army  had  held  dominion  m  England  ; 
and  under  that  dominion  the  King  had  been  murdered,  the 
nobility  degraded,  the  landed  gentry  plundered,  the  Church 
persecuted.     There  was  scarce  a  rural  grandee  who  could  not 

*  Dryden,  in  his  Cymon  and  Iphigenia,  expressed,  with  his  usual  keen- 
ness and  energy,  the  sentiments  which  had  been  fashionable  among  the 
sycophants  of  James  the  Second  :— 

"  The  country  rings  around  with  loud  alarms, 

And  raw  in  fields  the  rude  militia  swarms  ; 

Mouths  without  hands,  maintained  at  vast  expense, 

In  peace  a  charge,  in  war  a  weak  defence. 

Stout  once  a  month  they  march,  a  blustering  band. 

And  ever,  but  in  time  of  need,  at  hand. 

This  was  the  morn  when,  issuing  on  the  guard, 

Drawn  up  in  rank  and  file,  they  stood  prepared 

Of  seeming  arms  to  make  a  short  essay. 

Then  hasten  to  be  drunk,  the  business  of  the  day." 


tell  a  Story  of  wrongs  and  insults  suffered  by  himself,  or  by  his 
father,  at  the  hands  of  the  parliamentary  soldiers.  One  old 
Cavalier  had  seen  half  his  manor  house  blown  up.  The 
hereditary  elms  of  another  had  been  hewn  down.  A  third 
could  never  go  into  his  parish  church  without  being  reminded 
by  the  defaced  scutcheons  and  headless  statues  of  his  ancestry, 
that  Oliver's  redcoats  had  once  stabled  their  horses  there.  The 
consequence  was  that  those  very  Royalists,  who  were  most  ready 
to  fight  for  the  King  themselves,  were  the  last  persons  whom 
he  could  venture  to  ask  for  the  means  of  hiring  regular  troops. 

Charles,  however,  had,  a  few  months  after  his  restoration, 
begun  to  form  a  small  standing  army.  He  felt  that,  without 
some  better  protection  than  that  of  the  trainbands  and  beef- 
eaters, his  palace  and  person  would  hardly  be  secure,  in  the 
vicinity  of  a  great  city  swarming  with  warlike  Fifth  Monarchy 
men  who  had  just  been  disbanded.  He  therefore,  careless  and 
profuse  as  he  was,  contrived  to  spare  from  his  pleasures  a  sum 
sufficient  to  keep  up  a  body  of  guards.  With  the  increase  of 
trade  and  of  public  wealth  his  revenues  increased ;  and  he 
was  thus  enabled,  in  spite  of  the  occasional  murmurs  of  the 
Commons,  to  make  gradual  additions  to  his  regular  forces. 
One  considerable  addition  was  made  a  few  months  before  the 
close  of  his  reign.  The  costly,  useless,  and  pestilential  settle- 
ment of  Tangier  was  abandoned  to  the  barbarians  who  dwelt 
around  it ;  and  the  garrison,  consisting  of  one  regiment  of 
horse  and  two  regiments  of  foot,  was  brought  to  England. 

The  little  army  thus  formed  by  Charles  the  Second  was  the 
germ  of  that  great  and  renowned  army  which  has,  in  the 
present  century,  marched  triumphant  into  Madrid  and  Paris, 
into  Canton  and  Candahar.  The  Life  Guards,  who  now  form 
two  regiments,  were  then  distributed  into  three  troops,  each  of 
which  consisted  of  two  hundred  carabineers,  exclusive  of 
officers.  This  corps,  to  which  the  safety  of  the  King  and  royal 
family  was  confided,  had  a  very  peculiar  character.  Even  the 
privates  were  designated  as  gentlemen  of  the  Guard.  Many  of 
them  were  of  good  families,  and  had  held  commissions  in  the 
civil  war.  Their  pay  was  far  higher  than  that  of  the  most 
favoured  regiment  of  our  time,  and  would  in  that  age  have 
been  thought  a  respectable  provision  for  the  younger  son  of 
a  country  squire.  Their  fine  horses,  their  rich  housings,  their 
cuirasses,  and  their  buff  coats  adorned  with  ribands,  velvet,  and 
gold  lace,  made  a  splendid  appearance  in  St.  James's  Park.  A 
small  body  of  grenadier  dragoons,  who  came  from  a  lower  class 
and  received  lower  pay,  was  attached  to  each  troop.     Another 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  22  1 

body  of  household  cavalry  distinguished  by  blue  coats  and 
cloaks,  and  still  called  the  Blues,  was  generally  quartered  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  the  capital.  Near  the  capital  lay  also 
the  corps  which  is  now  designated  as  the  first  regiment  of 
dragoons,  but  which  was  then  the  only  regiment  of  dragoons 
on  the  English  establishment.  It  had  recently  been  formed 
out  of  the  cavalry  who  had  returned  from  Tangier.  A  single 
troop  of  dragoons,  which  did  not  form  part  of  any  regiment, 
was  stationed  near  Berwick,  for  the  purpose  of  keeping  the 
peace  among  the  mosstroopers  of  the  border.  For  this  species 
of  service  the  dragoon  was  then  thought  to  be  peculiarly 
qualified.  He  has  since  become  a  mere  horse  soldier.  But 
in  the  seventeenth  century  he  was  accurately  described  by 
Montecuculi  as  a  foot  soldier  who  used  a  horse  only  in  order 
to  arrive  with  more  speed  at  the  place  where  military  service 
was  to  he  performed. 

The  household  infantry  consisted  of  two  regiments,  which 
were  then,  as  now,  called  the  first  regiment  of  Foot  Guards, 
and  the  Coldstream  Guards.  They  generally  did  duty  near 
Whitehall  and  St.  James's  Palace.  As  there  were  then  no 
barracks,  and  as,  by  the  Petition  of  Right,  soldiers  could  not 
be  quartered  on  private  families,  the  redcoats  filled  all  the 
alehouses  of  Westminster  and  the  Strand. 

There  were  five  other  regiments  of  foot.  One  of  these, 
called  the  Admiral's  Regiment,  was  especially  destined  to 
service  on  board  of  the  fleet.  The  remaining  four  still  rank 
as  the  first  four  regiments  of  the  line.  Two  of  these  represented 
two  brigades  which  had  long  sustained  on  the  Continent  the 
fame  of  British  valour.  The  first,  or  Royal  regiment,  had, 
under  the  great  Gustavus,  borne  a  conspicuous  part  in  the 
deliverance  of  Germany.  The  third  regiment,  distinguished 
by  flesh  coloured  facings,  from  which  it  derived  the  well  known 
name  of  the  Buff's,  had,  under  Maurice  of  Nassau,  fought  not 
less  bravely  for  the  deliverance  of  the  Netherlands.  Both  these 
gallant  bands  had  at  length,  after  many  vicissitudes,  been 
recalled  from  foreign  service  by  Charles  the  Second,  and  had 
been  placed  on  the  English  establishment. 

The  regiments  which  now  rank  as  the  second  and  fourth  of 
the  hne  had,  in  1685,  just  returned  from  Tangier,  bringing 
with  them  cruel  and  licentious  habits  contracted  in  a  long 
course  of  warfare  with  the  Moors.  A  few  companies  of 
infantry  which  had  not  been  regimented  lay  in  garrison  at 
Tilbury  Fort,  at  Portsmouth,  at  Plymouth,  and  at  some  other 
important  stations  on  or  near  the  coast. 


'  Since  the  beginning  of  the  seventeenth  century  a  great 
change  had  taken  place  in  the  arms  of  the  infantry.  The  pike 
had  been  gradually  giving  place  to  the  musket ;  and,  at  the 
close  of  the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second,  most  of  his  foot  were 
musketeers.  Still,  however,  there  was  a  large  intermixture  of 
pikemen.  Each  class  of  troops  was  occasionally  instructed  in 
the  use  of  the  weapon  which  peculiarly  belonged  to  the  other 
class.  Every  foot  soldier  had  at  his  side  a  sword  for  close 
fight.  The  dragoon  was  armed  like  a  musketeer,  and  was  also 
provided  with  a  weapon  which  had,  during  many  years,  been 
gradually  coming  into  use,  and  which  the  English  then  called  a 
dagger,  but  which,  from  the  time  of  our  revolution,  has  been 
known  among  us  by  the  French  name  of  bayonet.  The 
bayonet  seems  not  to  have  been  so  formidable  an  instrument 
of  destruction  as  it  has  since  become ;  for  it  was  inserted  in 
the  muzzle  of  the  gun ;  and  in  action  much  time  was  lost 
while  the  soldier  unfixed  his  bayonet  in  order  to  fire,  and  fixed 
it  again  in  order  to  charge. 

The  regular  army  which  was  kept  up  in  England  at  the 
beginning  of  the  year  1685  consisted,  all  ranks  included,  of 
about  seven  thousand  foot,  and  about  seventeen  hundred 
cavalry  and  dragoons.  The  whole  charge  amounted  to  about 
two  hundred  and  ninety  thousand  pounds  a  year,  less  than  a 
tenth  part  of  what  the  military  establishment  of  France  then 
cost  in  time  of  peace.  The  daily  pay  of  a  private  in  the  Life 
Guards  was  four  shillings,  in  the  Blues  two  shillings  and  six- 
pence, in  the  Dragoons  eighteenpence,  in  the  Foot  Guards 
tenpence,  and  in  the  line  eightpence.  The  discipline  was  lax, 
and  indeed  could  not  be  otherwise.  The  common  law  of 
England  knew  nothing  of  courts  martial,  and  made  no 
distinction,  in  time  of  peace,  between  a  soldier  and  any  other 
subject ;  nor  could  the  government  then  venture  to  ask  even 
the  most  loyal  Parliament  for  a  Mutiny  Bill.  A  soldier,  there- 
fore, by  knocking  down  his  colonel,  incurred  only  the  ordinary 
penalties  of  assault  and  battery,  and  by  refusing  to  obey  orders, 
by  sleeping  on  guard,  or  by  deserting  his  colours,  incurred  no 
legal  penalty  at  all.  Military  punishments  were  doubtless 
inflicted  during  the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second,  but  they  were 
inflicted  very  sparingly,  and  in  such  a  manner  as  not  to  attract 
public  notice,  or  to  produce  an  appeal  to  the  courts  of  West- 
minster Hall. 

Such  an  army  as  has  been  described  was  not  very  likely  to 
enslave  five  millions  of  Englishmen.  It  would  indeed  have 
been  hardly  able  to  suppress  an  insurrection  in  London,  if  the 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  223 

trainbands  of  the  City  had  joined  the  insurgents.  Nor  could 
the  King  expect  that,  if  a  rising  took  place  in  England,  he 
would  be  able  to  obtain  help  from  his  other  dominions.  For, 
though  both  Scotland  and  Ireland  supported  separate  military 
establishments,  those  establishments  were  not  more  than 
sufficient  to  keep  down  the  Puritan  malecontents  of  the  former 
kingdom,  and  the  Popish  malecontents  of  the  latter.  The 
government  had,  however,  an  important  military  resource 
which  must  not  be  left  unnoticed.  There  were  in  the  pay  of 
the  United  Provinces  six  fine  regiments,  formerly  commanded 
by  the  brave  Ossory.  Of  these  regiments  three  had  been 
raised  in  England  and  three  in  Scotland,  Their  native  prince 
had  reserved  to  himself  the  power  of  recalling  them,  if  he 
needed  their  help  against  a  foreign  or  domestic  enemy.  In 
the  meantime  they  were  maintained  without  any  charge  to  him, 
and  were  kept  under  an  excellent  discipline,  to  which  he  could 
not  have  ventured  to  subject  them.* 

If  the  jealousy  of  the  Parliament  and  of  the  nation  made  it 
impossible  for  the  King  to  maintain  a  formidable  standing 
army,  no  similar  impediment  prevented  him  from  making 
England  the  first  of  maritime  powers.  Both  Whigs  and  Tories 
were  ready  to  applaud  every  step  tending  to  increase  the 
efficiency  of  that  force  which,  while  it  was  the  best  protection 
of  the  island  against  foreign  enemies,  was  powerless  against 
civil  liberty.  All  the  greatest  exploits  achieved  within  the 
memory  of  that  generation  by  English  soldiers  had  been 
achieved  in  war  against  English  princes.  The  victories  of  our 
sailors  had  been  won  over  foreign  foes,  and  had  averted  havoc 
and  rapine  from  our  own  soil.  By  at  least  half  the  nation  the 
battle  of  Naseby  was  remembered  with  horror,  and  the  battle 
of  Dunbar  with  pride  chequered  by  many  painful  feelings  : 
but  the  defeat  of  the  Armada,  and  the  encounters  of  Blake  with 
the  Hollanders  and  Spaniards,  were  recollected  with  unmixed 
exultation  by  all  parties.  Ever  since  the  Restoration,  the 
Commons,  even  when  most  discontented  and  most  parsimonious, 
had  always  been  bountiful  even  to  profusion  where  the  interest 
of  the  navy  was  concerned.  It  had  been  represented  to  them, 
while  Danby  was  minister,  that  many  of  the  vessels  in  the  royal 
fleet  were  old  and  unfit  for  sea  ;  and,  although  the  House  was, 

*  Most  of  the  materials  which  I  have  used  for  this  account  of  the  regular 
army  will  be  found  in  the  Historical  Records  of  Regiments,  published  by 
command  of  King  William  the  Fourth,  and  under  the  direction  of  the 
Adjutant  General.  See  also  Chamberlayne's  State  of  England,  1684  ; 
Abridgment  of  the  English  Military  Discipline,  printed  by  especial 
command,  1685  ;  Exercise  of  Foot,  by  their  Majesties'  command,  1690. 



at  that  time,  in  no  giving  mood,  an  aid  of  near  six  hundred 
thousand  pounds  had  been  granted  for  the  building  of  thirty 
new  men  of  war. 

But  the  liberality  of  the  nation  had  been  made  fruitless  by 
the  vices  of  the  government.  The  list  of  the  King's  ships,  it  is 
true,  looked  well.  There  were  nine  first  rates,  fourteen  second 
rates,  thirty-nine  third  rates,  and  many  smaller  vessels.  The 
first  rates,  indeed,  were  less  than  the  third  rates  of  our  time ; 
and  the  third  rates  would  not  now  rank  as  very  large  frigates. 
This  force,  however,  if  it  had  been  efficient,  would  in  those 
days  have  been  regarded  by  the  greatest  potentate  as  formidable. 
But  it  existed  only  on  paper.  When  the  reign  of  Charles 
terminated,  his  navy  had  sunk  into  degradation  and  decay,  such 
as  would  be  almost  incredible  if  it  were  not  certified  to  us  by 
the  independent  and  concurring  evidence  of  witnesses  whose 
authority  is  beyond  exception.  Pepys,  the  ablest  man  in  the 
English  Admiralty,  drew  up,  in  the  year  1684,  a  memorial  on 
the  state  of  his  department,  for  the  information  of  Charles.  A 
few  months  later  Bonrepaux,  the  ablest  man  in  the  French 
Admiralty,  having  visited  England  for  the  especial  purpose  of 
ascertaining  her  maritime  strength,  laid  the  result  of  his  inquiries 
before  Lewis.  The  two  reports  are  to  the  same  effect.  Bon- 
repaux declared  that  he  found  everything  in  disorder  and  in 
miserable  condition,  that  the  superiority  of  the  French  marine 
was  acknowledged  with  shame  and  envy  at  Whitehall,  and  that 
the  state  of  our  shipping  and  dockyards  was  of  itself  a  sufficient 
guarantee  that  we  should  not  meddle  in  the  disputes  of  Europe.* 
Pepys  informed  his  master  that  the  naval  administration  was  a 
prodigy  of  wastefulness,  corruption,  ignorance,  and  indolence, 
that  no  estimate  could  be  trusted,  that  no  contract  was  per- 
formed, that  no  check  was  enforced.  The  vessels  which  the 
recent  liberality  of  Parliament  had  enabled  the  government  to 
build,  and  which  had  never  been  out  of  harbour,  had  been 
made  of  such  wretched  timber  that  they  were  more  unfit  to  go 
to  sea  than  the  old  hulls  which  had  been  battered  thirty  years 
before  by  Dutch  and  Spanish  broadsides.  Some  of  the  new 
men    of  war,    indeed,    were   so   rotten  that,    unless   speedily 

*  I  refer  to  a  despatch  of  Bonrepaux  to  Seignelay,  dated  Feb.  -^.  1686. 
It  was  transcribed  for  Mr.  Fox  from  the  French  archives,  during  the  peace 
of  Amiens,  and,  with  the  other  materials  brought  together  by  that  great 
man,  was  intrusted  to  me  by  the  kindness  of  the  late  Lady  Holland,  and  of 
the  present  Lord  Holland.  I  ought  to  add  that,  even  in  the  midst  of  the 
troubles  which  have  lately  agitated  Paris,  I  have  found  no  difficulty  in 
obtaining,  from  the  liberality  of  the  functionaries  there,  extracts  supplying 
some  chasms  in  Mr.  Fox's  collection. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  22^ 

repaired,  they  would  go  down  at  their  moorings.  The  sailors 
were  paid  with  so  little  punctuality  that  they  were  glad  to  find 
some  usurer  who  would  purchase  their  tickets  at  forty  per  cent, 
discount.  The  commanders  who  had  not  powerful  friends 
at  court  were  even  worse  treated.  Some  officers,  to  whom 
large  arrears  were  due,  after  vainly  importuning  the  govern- 
ment during  many  years,  had  died  for  want  of  a  morsel  of 

Most  of  the  ships  which  were  afloat  were  commanded  by 
men  who  had  not  been  bred  to  the  sea.  This,  it  is  true,  was 
not  an  abuse  introduced  by  the  government  of  Charles.  No 
state,  ancient  or  modern,  had,  before  that  time,  made  a  com- 
plete separation  between  the  naval  and  military  services.  In 
the  great  civilised  nations  of  the  old  world,  Cimon  and  Lysander, 
Pompey  and  Agrippa,  had  fought  battles  by  sea  as  well  as  by 
land.  Nor  had  the  impulse  which  nautical  science  received 
at  the  close  of  the  fifteenth  century  produced  any  material 
improvement  in  the  division  of  labour.  At  Flodden  the  right 
wing  of  the  victorious  army  was  led  by  the  Admiral  of  England. 
At  Jarnac  and  Moncontour  the  Huguenot  ranks  were  marshalled 
by  the  Admiral  of  France.  Neither  John  of  Austria,  the 
conqueror  of  Lepanto,  nor  Lord  Howard  of  Effingham,  to 
whose  direction  the  marine  of  England  was  entrusted  when  the 
Spanish  invaders  were  approaching  our  shores,  had  received  the 
education  of  a  sailor.  Raleigh,  highly  celebrated  as  a  naval 
commander,  had  served  during  many  years  as  a  soldier  in 
France,  the  Netherlands,  and  Ireland.  Blake  had  distinguished 
himself  by  his  skilful  and  valiant  defence  of  an  inland  town 
before  he  humbled  the  pride  of  Holland  and  of  Castile  on  the 
ocean.  Since  the  Restoration  the  same  system  had  been 
followed.  Great  fleets  had  been  entrusted  to  the  direction  of 
Rupert  and  Monk  ;  Rupert,  who  was  renowned  chiefly  as  a  hot 
and  daring  cavalry  officer,  and  Monk,  who,  when  he  wished  his 
ship  to  change  her  course,  moved  the  mirth  of  his  crew  by 
calling  out,  "Wheel  to  the  left  !  " 

But  about  this  time  wise  men  began  to  perceive  that  the 
rapid  improvement,  both  of  the  art  of  war  and  of  the  art  of 
navigation,  made  it  necessary  to  draw  a  line  between  two 
professions  which  had  hitherto  been  confounded.  Either  the 
command  of  a  regiment  or  the  command  of  a  ship  was  now  a 
matter  quite  sufficient  to  occupy  the  attention  of  a  single  mind. 
In  the  year  1672  the  French  government  determined  to  educate 
young  men  of  good  family  from  a  very  early  age  specially  for 
the  sea  service.    But  the  English  government,  instead  of  follow- 

22  6  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

ing  this  excellent  example,  not  only  continued  to  distribute 
high  naval  commands  among  landsmen,  but  selected  for  such 
commands  landsmen  who,  even  on  land,  could  not  safely  have 
been  put  in  any  important  trust.  Any  lad  of  noble  birth,  any 
dissolute  courtier  for  whom  one  of  the  King's  mistresses  would 
speak  a  word,  might  hope  that  a  ship  of  the  line,  and  with  it 
the  honour  of  the  country  and  the  lives  of  hundreds  of  brave 
men,  would  be  committed  to  his  care.  It  mattered  not  that  he 
had  never  in  his  life  taken  a  voyage  except  on  the  Thames,  that 
he  could  not  keep  his  feet  in  a  breeze,  that  he  did  not  know 
the  difference  between  latitude  and  longitude.  No  previous 
training  was  thought  necessary ;  or,  at  most,  he  was  sent  to 
make  a  short  trip  in  a  man  of  war,  where  he  was  subjected  to  no 
discipline,  where  he  was  treated  with  marked  respect,  and 
where  he  lived  in  a  round  of  revels  and  amusements.  If,  in 
the  intervals  of  feasting,  drinking  and  gambling,  he  succeeded 
in  learning  the  meaning  of  a  few  technical  phrases  and  the 
names  of  the  points  of  the  compass,  he  was  fully  qualified  to 
take  charge  of  a  threedecker.  This  is  no  imaginary  descrip- 
tion. In  1666,  John  Sheffield,  Earl  of  Mulgrave,  at  seventeen 
years  of  age,  volunteered  to  serve  at  sea  against  the  Dutch. 
He  passed  six  weeks  on  board,  diverting  himself,  as  well  as  he 
could,  in  the  society  of  some  young  libertines  of  rank,  and 
then  returned  home  to  take  the  command  of  a  troop  of  horse. 
After  this  he  was  never  on  the  water  till  the  year  1672,  when  he 
again  joined  the  fleet,  and  was  almost  immediately  appointed 
Captain  of  a  ship  of  eighty-four  guns,  reputed  the  finest  in  the 
navy.  He  was  then  twenty-three  years  old,  and  had  not,  in  the 
whole  course  of  his  life,  been  three  months  afloat.  As  soon  as 
he  came  back  from  sea  he  was  made  Colonel  of  a  regiment  of 
foot.  This  is  a  specimen  of  the  manner  in  which  naval 
commands  of  the  highest  importance  were  then  given  ;  and 
a  favourable  specimen  ;  for  Mulgrave,  though  he  wanted  ex- 
perience, wanted  neither  parts  nor  courage.  Others  were 
promoted  in  the  same  way  who  not  only  were  not  good  officers, 
but  who  were  intellectually  and  morally  incapable  of  ever 
becoming  good  officers,  and  whose  only  recommendation  was 
that  they  had  been  ruined  by  folly  and  vice.  The  chief  bait 
which  allured  these  men  into  the  service  was  the  profit  of  con- 
veying bullion  and  other  valuable  commodities  from  port  to 
port  j  for  both  the  Atlantic  and  the  Mediterranean  were  then 
so  much  infested  by  pirates  from  Barbary  that  merchants  were 
not  willing  to  trust  precious  cargoes  to  any  custody  but  that  of 
a  man  of  war.    A  Captain  in  this  way  sometimes  cleared  several 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  227 

thousands  of  pounds  by  a  short  voyage  ;  and  for  this  lucrative 
business  he  too  often  neglected  the  interests  of  his  country  and 
the  honour  of  his  flag,  made  mean  submissions  to  foreign 
powers,  disobeyed  the  most  direct  injunctions  of  his  superiors, 
lay  in  port  when  he  was  ordered  to  chase  a  Sallee  rover,  or  ran 
with  dollars  to  Leghorn  when  his  instructions  directed  him  to 
repair  to  Lisbon.  And  all  this  he  did  with  impunity.  The 
same  interest  which  had  placed  him  in  a  post  for  which  he  was 
unfit  maintained  him  there.  No  Admiral,  bearded  by  these 
corrupt  and  dissolute  minions  of  the  palace,  dared  to  do  more 
than  mutter  something  about  a  court  martial.  If  any  officer 
showed  a  higher  sense  of  duty  than  his  fellows,  he  soon  found 
that  he  lost  money  without  acquiring  honour.  One  Captain, 
who,  by  strictly  obeying  the  orders  of  the  Admiralty,  missed  a 
cargo  which  would  have  been  worth  four  thousand  pounds  to 
him,  was  told  by  Charles,  with  ignoble  levity,  that  he  was  a 
great  fool  for  his  pains. 

The  discipline  of  the  navy  was  of  a  piece  throughout.  As 
the  courtly  Captain  despised  the  Admiralty,  he  was  in  turn 
despised  by  his  crew.  It  could  not  be  concealed  that  he  was 
inferior  in  seamanship  to  every  foremast  man  on  board.  It 
was  idle  to  expect  that  old  sailors,  familiar  with  the  hurricanes 
of  the  tropics  and  with  the  icebergs  of  the  Arctic  Circle,  would 
pay  prompt  and  respectful  obedience  to  a  chief  who  knew  no 
more  of  winds  and  waves  than  could  be  learned  in  a  gilded 
barge  between  Whitehall  Stairs  and  Hampton  Court.  To 
trust  such  a  novice  with  the  working  of  a  ship  was  evidently 
impossible.  The  direction  of  the  navigation  was  therefore 
taken  from  the  Captain  and  given  to  the  Master  ■  but  this 
partition  of  authority  produced  innumerable  inconveniences. 
The  line  of  demarcation  was  not,  and  perhaps  could  not  be, 
drawn  with  precision.  There  was  therefore  constant  wrangling. 
The  Captain,  confident  in  proportion  to  his  ignorance,  treated 
the  Master  with  lordly  contempt.  The  Master,  well  aware  of  the 
danger  of  disobliging  the  powerful,  too  often,  after  a  struggle, 
yielded  against  his  better  judgment ;  and  it  was  well  if  the  loss 
of  ship  and  crew  was  not  the  consequence.  In  general  the 
least  mischievous  of  the  aristocratical  Captains  were  those 
who  completely  abandoned  to  others  the  direction  of  the 
vessels,  and  thought  only  of  making  money  and  spending  it. 
The  way  in  which  these  men  lived  was  so  ostentatious  and 
voluptuous  that,  greedy  as  they  were  of  gain,  they  seldom 
became  rich.  They  dressed  as  if  for  a  gala  at  Versailles,  ate 
off  plate,  drank  the  richest  wines,  and  kept  harams  on  board, 

22  8  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

while  hunger  and  scurvy  raged  amongst  the  crews,  and  while 
corpses  were  daily  flung  out  of  the  portholes. 

Such  was  the  ordinary  character  of  those  who  were  then 
called  gentlemen  Captains.  Mingled  with  them  were  to  be 
found,  happily  for  our  country,  naval  commanders  of  a  very 
different  description,  men  whose  whole  life  had  been  passed  on 
the  deep,  and  who  had  worked  and  fought  their  way  from  the 
lowest  offices  of  the  forecastle  to  rank  and  distinction.  One  of 
the  most  eminent  of  these  officers  was  Sir  Christopher  Mings, 
who  entered  the  service  as  a  cabin  boy,  who  fell  fighting 
bravely  against  the  Dutch,  and  whom  his  crew,  weeping  and 
vowing  vengeance,  carried  to  the  grave.  From  him  sprang,  by 
a  singular  kind  of  descent,  a  line  of  valiant  and  expert  sailors. 
His  cabin  boy  was  Sir  John  Narborough  ;  and  the  cabin  boy 
of  Sir  John  Narborough  was  Sir  Cloudesley  Shovel.  To  the 
strong  natural  sense  and  dauntless  courage  of  this  class  of  men 
England  owes  a  debt  never  to  be  forgotten.  It  was  by  such 
resolute  hearts  that,  in  spite  of  much  maladministration,  and  in 
spite  of  the  blunders  of  more  courtly  admirals,  our  coasts  were 
protected  and  the  reputation  of  our  flag  upheld  during  many 
gloomy  and  perilous  years.  But  to  a  landsman  these  tar- 
paulins, as  they  were  called,  seemed  a  strange  and  half  savage 
race.  All  their  knowledge  was  professional;  and  their  pro- 
fessional knowledge  was  practical  rather  than  scientific.  Off 
their  own  element  they  were  as  simple  as  children.  Their 
deportment  was  uncouth.  There  was  roughness  in  their  very 
good  nature;  and  their  talk,  where  it  was  not  made  up  of 
nautical  phrases,  was  too  commonly  made  up  of  oaths  and 
curses.  Such  were  the  chiefs  in  whose  rude  school  were 
formed  those  sturdy  warriors  from  whom  Smollet,  in  the 
next  age,  drew  Lieutenant  Bowling  and  Commodore  Trunnion. 
But  it  does  not  appear  that  there  was  in  the  service  of  any  of 
the  Stuarts  a  single  naval  officer  such  as,  according  to  the 
notions  of  our  times,  a  naval  officer  ought  to  be,  that  is  to  say, 
a  man  versed  in  the  theory  and  practice  of  his  calling,  and 
steeled  against  all  the  dangers  of  battle  and  tempest,  yet  of 
cultivated  mind  and  polished  manners.  There  were  gentlemen 
and  there  were  seamen  in  the  navy  of  Charles  the  Second. 
But  the  seamen  were  not  gentlemen  ;  and  the  gentlemen  were 
not  seamen. 

The  English  navy  at  that  time  might,  according  to  the  most 
exact  estimates  which  have  come  down  to  us,  have  been  kept 
in  an  efficient  state  for  three  hundred  and  eighty  thousand 
pounds  a  year.     Four  hundred  thousand  pounds  a  year  was 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  229 

the  sum  actually  expended,  but  expended,  as  we  have  seen,  to 
very  little  purpose.  The  cost  of  the  French  marine  was  nearly 
the  same  ;  the  cost  of  the  Dutch  marine  considerably  more.* 

The  charge  of  the  English  ordnance  in  the  seventeenth 
century  was,  as  compared  with  other  military  and  naval  charges, 
much  smaller  than  at  present.  At  most  of  the  garrisons  there 
were  gunners,  and  here  and  there,  at  an  important  post,  an 
engineer  was  to  be  found.  But  there  was  no  regiment  of 
artillery,  no  brigade  of  sappers  and  miners,  no  college  in  which 
young  soldiers  could  learn  the  scientific  part  of  war.  The 
difificulty  of  moving  field  pieces  was  extreme.  AVhen  a  few 
years  later,  William  marched  from  Devonshire  to  London,  the 
apparatus  which  he  brought  with  him,  though  such  as  had  long 
been  in  constant  use  on  the  Continent,  and  such  as  would 
now  be  regarded  at  Woolwich  as  rude  and  cumbrous,  excited 
in  our  ancestors  an  admiration  resembling  that  which  the 
Indians  of  America  felt  for  the  Castilian  harquebusses.  The 
stock  of  gunpowder  kept  in  the  English  forts  and  arsenals  was 
boastfully  mentioned  by  patriotic  writers  as  something  which 
might  well  impress  neighbouring  nations  with  awe.  It 
amounted  to  fourteen  or  fifteen  thousand  barrels,  about  a 
twelfth  of  the  quantity  which  it  is  now  thought  necessary  to 
have  always  in  store.  The  expenditure  under  the  head  of 
ordnance  was  on  an  average  a  little  above  sixty  thousand 
pounds  a  year.f 

The  whole  effective  charge  of  the  army,  navy,  and  ordnance, 
was  about  seven  hundred  and  fifty  thousand  pounds.  The 
noneffective  charge,  which  is  now  a  heavy  part  of  our  public 
burdens,  can  hardly  be  said  to  have  existed.  A  very  small 
number  of  naval  ofificers,  who  were  not  employed  in  the  public 
service,  drew  half  pay.     No  Lieutenant  was  on  the  list,  nor  any 

*  My  information  respecting  the  condition  of  the  navy,  at  this  time,  is 
chiefly  derived  from  Pepys.  His  report,  presented  to  Charles  the  Second 
in  May  1684,  has  never,  I  believe,  been  printed.  The  manuscript  is  at 
Magdalene  College,  Cambridge.  At  Magdalene  College  is  also  a  valuable 
manuscript  containing  a  detailed  account  of  the  maritime  establishments  ot 
the  country  in  December  1684.  Pepys's  "Memoirs  relating  to  the  State 
of  the  Royal  Navy  for  Ten  Years,  determined  December  168S,"  and  his 
diary  and  correspondence  during  his  mission  to  Tangier,  are  in  print.  I 
have  made  large  use  of  them.  See  also  Sheffield's  Memoirs,  Teonge's 
Diary,  Aubrey's  Life  of  Monk,  the  Life  of  Sir  Cloudesley  Shovel,  1 70S, 
Commons'  Journals,  March  I  and  March  20,  l6S|. 

t  Chamberlayne's  Stale  of  England,  1684 ;  Commons'  Journals, 
March  I  and  March  20,  168^.  In  1833,  it  was  determined,  after  full 
enquiry,  that  a  hundred  and  seventy  thousand  barrels  of  gunpowder  should 
constantly  be  kept  in  store  ;  and  this  rule  is  still  observed. 


Captain  who  had  not  commanded  a  ship  of  the  first  or  second 
rate.  As  the  country  then  possessed  only  seventeen  ships  of 
the  first  and  second  rate  that  had  ever  been  at  sea,  and  as 
a  large  proportion  of  the  persons  who  had  commanded  such 
ships  had  good  posts  on  shore,  the  expenditure  under  this  head 
must  have  been  small  indeed.*  In  the  army,  half  pay  was 
given  merely  as  a  special  and  temporary  allowance  to  a  small 
number  of  officers  belonging  to  two  regiments,  which  were 
peculiarly  situated.!  Greenwich  Hospital  had  not  been 
founded.  Chelsea  Hospital  was  building :  but  the  cost  of 
that  institution  was  defrayed  partly  by  a  deduction  from  the 
pay  of  the  troops,  and  partly  by  private  subscription.  The 
King  promised  to  contribute  only  twenty  thousand  pounds 
for  architectural  expenses,  and  five  thousand  a  year  for  the 
maintenance  of  the  invalids.  |  It  was  no  part  of  the  plan 
that  there  should  be  outpensioners.  The  whole  noneffective 
charge,  military  and  naval,  can  scarcely  have  exceeded  ten 
thousand  pounds  a  year.  It  now  exceeds  ten  thousand  pounds 
a  day. 

Of  the  expense  of  civil  government  only  a  small  portion  was 
defrayed  by  the  crown.  The  great  majority  of  the  functionaries 
whose  business  was  to  administer  justice  and  preserve  order, 
either  gave  their  services  to  the  public  gratuitously,  or  were 
remunerated  in  a  manner  which  caused  no  drain  on  the 
revenue  of  the  state.  The  sheriffs,  mayors,  and  aldermen  of 
the  towns,  the  country  gentlemen  who  were  in  the  commission 
of  the  peace,  the  headboroughs,  bailiffs,  and  petty  constables, 
cost  the  king  nothing.  The  superior  courts  of  law  were  chiefly 
supported  by  fees. 

Our  relations  with  foreign  courts  had  been  put  on  the  most 
economical  footing.  The  only  diplomatic  agent  who  had  the 
title  of  Ambassador  resided  at  Constantinople,  and  was  partly 
supported  by  the  Turkey  Company.  Even  at  the  court  of 
Versailles  England  had  only  an  Envoy ;  and  she  had  not  even 
an  Envoy  at  the  Spanish,  Swedish,  and  Danish  courts.  The 
whole  expense  under  this  head  cannot,  in  the  last  year  of  the 
reign  of  Charles  the  Second,  have  much  exceeded  twenty 
thousand  pounds.  § 

*  It  appears  from  the  records  of  the  Admiralty,  that  Flag  officers  were 
allowed  half  pay  in  1668,  Captains  of  first  and  second  rates  not  tiU 

t  Warrant  in  the  War  Office  Records,  dated  March  26,  1678. 

+  Evelyn's  Diary,  Jan.  27,  1682.  I  have  seen  a  privy  seal,  dated  May 
17,  1683,  which  confirms  Evelyn's  testimony. 

§  James  the  Second  sent  Envoys  to  Spain,  Sweden,  and  Denmark  ;  yet 

ENGLAND    IN     1 685  23  I 

In  this  frugality  there  was  nothing  laudable.  Charles  was, 
as  usual,  niggardly  in  the  wrong  place,  and  munificent  in  the 
wrong  place.  The  public  service  was  starved  that  courtiers 
might  be  pampered.  The  expense  of  the  navy,  of  the  ordnance, 
of  pensions  to  needy  old  officers,  of  missions  to  foreign  courts, 
must  seem  small  indeed  to  the  present  generation.  But  the 
personal  favourites  of  the  sovereign,  his  ministers,  and  the 
creatures  of  those  ministers,  were  gorged  with  public  money. 
Their  salaries  and  pensions,  when  compared  with  the  incomes 
of  the  nobility,  the  gentry,  the  commercial  and  professional 
men  of  that  age,  will  appear  enormous.  The  greatest  estates 
in  the  kingdom  then  very  little  exceeded  twenty  thousand  a 
year.  The  Duke  of  Ormond  had  twenty-two  thousand  a 
year.*  The  Duke  of  Buckingham,  before  his  extravagance 
had  impaired  his  great  property,  had  nineteen  thousand  six 
hundred  a  year.f  George  Monk,  Duke  of  Albemarle,  who 
had  been  rewarded  for  his  eminent  services  with  immense 
grants  of  crown  land,  and  who  had  been  notorious  both  for 
covetousness  and  for  parsimony,  left  fifteen  thousand  a  year 
of  real  estate,  and  sixty  thousand  pounds  in  money  which 
probably  yielded  seven  per  cent.  J  These  three  Dukes  were 
supposed  to  be  three  of  the  very  richest  subjects  in  England. 
The  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  can  hardly  have  had  five 
thousand  a  year.  §  The  average  income  of  a  temporal  peer 
was  estimated,  by  the  best  informed  persons,  at  about  three 
thousand  a  year,  the  average  income  of  a  baronet  at  nine 
hundred  a  year,  the  average  income  of  a  member  of  the  House 
of  Commons  at  less  than  eight  hundred  a  year.  ||  A  thousand 
a   year  was   thought  a  large   revenue   for   a   barrister.     Two 

in  his  reign  the  diplomatic  expenditure  was  little  more  than  30,000/.  a 
year.  See  the  Commons'  Journals,  March  20,  i68f.  Chamberlayne's 
State  of  England,  1684,  1687. 

*  Carte's  Life  of  Ormond. 

t  Pepys's  Diary,  Feb.  14,  i66|. 

X  See  the  Report  of  the  Bath  and  Montague  case,  which  was  decided 
by  Lord  Keeper  Somers,  in  December,  1693. 

§  During  three  quarters  of  a  year,  beginning  from  Christmas  1689,  the 
revenues  of  the  see  of  Canterbury  were  received  by  an  officer  appointed 
by  the  crown.  That  officer's  accounts  are  now  in  the  British  Museum. 
(Lansdowne  MSS.  8S5.)  The  gross  revenue  for  the  three  quarters  was 
not  quite  four  thousand  pounds  ;  and  the  difference  between  the  gross 
and  the  net  revenue  was  evidently  something  considerable. 

II  King's  Natural  and  Political  Conclusions.  Davenant  on  the  Balance 
of  Trade.  Sir  W.  Temple  says,  "  The  revenues  of  a  House  of  Commons 
have  seldom  exceeded  four  hundred  thousand  pounds."  Memoirs,  Third 


thousand  a  year  was  hardly  to  be  made  in  the  Court  of  King's 
Bench,  except  by  the  crown  lawyers.*  It  is  evident,  therefore, 
that  an  official  man  would  have  been  well  paid  if  he  had 
received  a  fourth  or  fifth  part  of  what  would  now  be  an 
adequate  stipend.  In  fact,  however,  the  stipends  of  the 
higher  class  of  official  men  were  as  large  as  at  present,  and 
not  seldom  larger.  The  Lord  Treasurer,  for  example,  had 
eight  thousand  a  year,  and,  when  the  Treasury  was  in  com- 
mission, the  junior  Lords  had  sixteen  hundred  a  year  each. 
The  Paymaster  of  the  Forces  had  a  poundage,  amounting  to 
about  five  thousand  a  year,  on  all  the  money  which  passed 
through  his  hands.  The  Groom  of  the  Stole  had  five  thousand 
a  year,  the  Commissioners  of  the  Customs  twelve  hundred  a 
year  each,  the  Lords  of  the  Bedchamber  a  thousand  a  year 
each.f  The  regular  salary,  however,  was  the  smallest  part  of 
the  gains  of  an  official  man  of  that  age.  From  the  noblemen 
who  held  the  white  staff  and  the  great  seal,  down  to  the 
humblest  tidewaiter  and  ganger,  what  would  now  be  called 
gross  corruption  was  practised  without  disguise  and  without 
reproach.  Titles,  places,  commissions,  pardons,  were  daily 
sold  in  market  overt  by  the  great  dignitaries  of  the  realm  ;  and 
every  clerk  in  every  department  imitated,  to  the  best  of  his 
power,  the  evil  example. 

During  the  last  century  no  prime  minister,  however  powerful, 
has  become  rich  in  office ;  and  several  prime  ministers  have 
impaired  their  private  fortune  in  sustaining  their  public  charac- 
ter. In  the  seventeenth  century,  a  statesman  who  was  at  the 
head  of  affairs  might  easily,  and  without  giving  scandal, 
accumulate  in  no  long  time  an  estate  amply  sufficient  to 
support  a  dukedom.  It  is  probable  that  the  income  of  the 
prime  minister,  during  his  tenure  of  power,  far  exceeded  that 
of  any  other  subject.  The  place  of  Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland 
was  supposed  to  be  worth  forty  thousand  pounds  a  year.| 
The  gains  of  the  Chancellor  Clarendon,  of  Arlington,  of 
Lauderdale,  and  of  Danby,  were  enormous.  The  sumptuous 
palace  to  which  the  populace  of  London  gave  the  name  of 
Dunkirk  House,  the  stately  pavilions,  the  fishponds,  the  deer 
park  and  the  orangery  of  Euston,  the  more  than  Italian  luxury 
of  Ham,  with  its  busts,  fountains,  and  aviaries,  were  among  the 
many  signs  which  indicated  what  was  the  shortest  road  to 

*  Langton's  Conversations  with  Chief  Justice  Hale,  1672. 
t  Commons' Journals,  April  27,  1689;  Chamberlayne's  State  of  England 

±  See  the  Travels  of  the  Grand  Duke  Cosmo. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  233 

boundless  wealth.  That  is  the  true  explanation  of  the  unscru- 
pulous violence  with  which  the  statesmen  of  that  day  struggled 
for  office,  of  the  tenacity  with  which,  in  spite  of  vexations, 
humiliations  and  dangers,  they  clung  to  it,  and  of  the  scandal- 
ous compliances  to  which  they  stooped  in  order  to  retain  it. 
Even  in  our  own  age,  formidable  as  is  the  power  of  opinion, 
and  high  as  is  the  standard  of  integrity,  there  would  be  great 
risk  of  a  lamentable  change  in  the  character  of  our  public 
men,  if  the  place  of  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury  or  Secretary 
of  State  were  worth  a  hundred  thousand  pounds  a  year. 
Happily  for  our  country  the  emoluments  of  the  highest  class 
of  functionaries  have  not  only  not  grown  in  proportion  to  the 
general  growth  of  our  opulence,  but  have  positively  diminished. 
The  fact  that  the  sum  raised  in  England  by  taxation  has,  in 
a  time  not  exceeding  two  long  lives,  been  multiplied  thirtyfold, 
is  strange,  and  may  at  first  sight  seem  appalling.  But  those 
who  are  alarmed  by  the  increase  of  the  public  burdens  may 
perhaps  be  reassured  when  they  have  considered  the  increase 
of  the  public  resources.  In  the  year  1685,  the  value  of  the 
produce  of  the  soil  far  exceeded  the  value  of  all  the  other 
fruits  of  human  industry.  Yet  agriculture  was  in  what  would 
now  be  considered  as  a  very  rude  and  imperfect  state.  The 
arable  land  and  pasture  land  were  not  supposed  by  the  best 
political  arithmeticians  of  that  age  to  amount  to  much  more 
than  half  the  area  of  the  kingdom.*  The  remainder  was 
believed  to  consist  of  moor,  forest,  and  fen.  These  computa- 
tions are  strongly  confirmed  by  the  road  books  and  maps  of 
the  seventeenth  century.  From  those  books  and  maps  it  is 
clear  that  many  routes  which  now  pass  through  an  endless 
succession  of  orchards,  hayfields,  and  beanfields,  then  ran 
through  nothing  but  heath,  swamp,  and  warren. t  In  the 
drawings  of  English  landscapes  made  in  that  age  for  the 
Grand  Duke  Cosmo,  scarce  a  hedgerow  is  to  be  seen,  and 
numerous  tracts,  now  rich  with  cultivation,  appear  as  bare  as 

*  King's  Natural  and  Political  Conclusions.  Davenant  on  the  Balance 
of  Trade. 

t  See  the  Itinerarium  Anglise,  1675,  by  John  Ogilby,  Cosmographer 
Royal.  He  describes  great  part  of  the  lai.d  as  wood,  fen,  heath-  on  both 
sides,  marsh  on  both  sides.  In  some  of  his  maps  the  roads  through  inclosed 
country  are  marked  by  lines,  and  the  roads  through  uninclosed  country  by 
dots.  The  proportion  of  uninclosed  country,  which,  if  cultivated,  must 
have  been  wretchedly  cultivated,  seems  to  have  been  very  great.  From 
Abingdon  to  Gloucester,  for  example,  a  distance  of  forty  or  fifty  miles, 
there  was  not  a  single  inclosure,  and  scarcely  one  inclosure  between  Biggles- 
wade and  Lincoln. 

2  34  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

Salisbury  Plain*  At  Enfield,  hardly  out  of  sight  of  the  smoke 
of  the  capital,  was  a  region  of  five  and  twenty  miles  in  circum- 
ference, which  contained  only  three  houses  and  scarcely  any 
inclosed  fields.  Deer,  as  free  as  in  an  American  forest,  wandered 
there  by  thousands.!  It  is  to  be  remarked,  that  wild  animals 
of  large  size  were  then  far  more  numerous  than  at  present. 
The  last  wild  boars,  indeed,  which  had  been  preserved  for  the 
royal  diversion,  and  had  been  allowed  to  ravage  the  cultivated 
land  with  their  tusks,  had  been  slaughtered  by  the  exasperated 
rustics  during  the  license  of  the  civil  war.  The  last  wolf  that 
has  roamed  our  island  had  been  slain  in  Scotland  a  short  time 
before  the  close  of  the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second.  But 
many  breeds,  now  extinct  or  rare,  both  of  quadrupeds  and 
birds,  were  still  common.  The  fox,  whose  life  is,  in  many 
counties,  held  almost  as  sacred  as  that  of  a  human  being,  was 
considered  as  a  mere  nuisance.  Oliver  Saint  John  told  the 
Long  Parliament  that  Strafford  was  to  be  regarded,  not  as  a 
stag  or  a  hare,  to  whom  some  law  was  to  be  given,  but  as  a 
fox,  who  was  to  be  snared  by  any  means,  and  knocked  on  the 
head  without  pity.  This  illustration  would  be  by  no  means  a 
happy  one,  if  addressed  to  country  gentlemen  of  our  time : 
but  in  Saint  John's  days  there  were  not  seldom  great  massacres 
of  foxes  to  which  the  peasantry  thronged  with  all  the  dogs  that 
could  be  mustered :  traps  were  set ;  nets  were  spread ;  no 
quarter  was  given ;  and  to  shoot  a  female  with  cub  was  con- 
sidered as  a  feat  which  merited  the  gratitude  of  the  neighbour- 
hood. The  red  deer  were  then  as  common  in  Gloucestershire 
and  Hampshire  as  they  now  are  among  the  Grampian  Hills. 
On  one  occasion  Queen  Anne,  on  her  way  to  Portsmouth,  saw 
a  herd  of  no  less  than  five  hundred.  The  wild  bull  with  his 
white  mane  was  still  to  be  found  wandering  in  a  few  of  the 
southern  forests.  The  badger  made  his  dark  and  tortuous 
hole  on  the  side  of  every  hill  where  the  copsewood  grew  thick. 
The  wild  cats  were  frequently  heard  by  night  wailing  round 
the  lodges  of  the  rangers  of  Whittlebury  and  Needwood.  The 
yellow-breasted  martin  was  still  pursued  in  Cranbourne  Chase 
for  his  fur,  reputed  inferior  only  to  that  of  the  sable.  Fen 
eagles,  measuring  more  than  nine  feet  between  the  extremities 
of  the  wings,  preyed  on  fish  along  the  coast  of  Norfolk.  On 
all  the  downs,  from  the  British  Channel  to  Yorkshire,  huge 
bustards  strayed  in  troops  of  fifty  or  sixty,  and  were  often 

*  Large  copies   of  these  highly  interesting   drawings  are  in   the  noble 
collection  bequeathed  by  Mr.  Grenville  to  the  British  Museum, 
t  Evelyn's  Diary,  June  2,  1675. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  235 

hunted  with  greyhounds.  The  marshes  of  Cambridgeshire 
and  Lincolnshire  were  covered  during  some  months  of  every 
year  by  immense  clouds  of  cranes.  Some  of  these  races  the 
progress  of  cultivation  has  extirpated.  Ot  others  the  numbers 
are  so  much  diminished  that  men  crowd  to  gaze  at  a  specimen 
as  at  a  Bengal  tiger,  or  a  Polar  bear.* 

The  progress  of  this  great  change  can  nowhere  be  more 
clearly  traced  than  in  the  Statute  Book.  The  number  of 
inclosure  acts  passed  since  King  George  the  Second  came  to 
the  throne  exceeds  four  thousand.  The  area  inclosed  under 
the  authority  of  those  acts  exceeds,  on  a  moderate  calculation, 
ten  thousand  square  miles.  How  many  square  miles,  which 
were  formerly  uncultivated  or  ill  cultivated,  have,  during  the 
same  period,  been  fenced  and  carefully  tilled  by  the  pro- 
prietors, without  any  application  to  the  legislature,  can  only  be 
conjectured.  But  it  seems  highly  probable  that  a  fourth  part 
of  England  has  been,  in  the  course  of  a  little  more  than  a 
century,  turned  from  a  wild  into  a  garden. 

Even  in  those  parts  of  the  kingdom  which  at  the  close  of 
the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second  were  the  best  cultivated,  the 
farming,  though  greatly  improved  since  the  civil  war,  was  not 
such  as  would  now  be  thought  skilful.  To  this  day  no 
effectual  steps  have  been  taken  by  public  authority  for  the 
purpose  of  obtaining  accurate  accounts  of  the  produce  of  the 
English  soil.  The  historian  must  therefore  follow,  with  some 
misgivings,  the  guidance  of  those  writers  on  statistics  whose 
reputation  for  diligence  and  fidelity  stands  highest.  At  present 
an  average  crop  of  wheat,  rye,  barley,  oats,  and  beans,  is 
supposed  considerably  to  exceed  thirty  millions  of  quarters. 
The  crop  of  wheat  would  be  thought  wretched  if  it  did 
not  exceed  twelve  millions  of  quarters.  According  to  the 
computation  made  in  the  year  1696  by  Gregory  King,  the 
whole  quantity  of  wheat,  rye,  barley,  oats,  and  beans,  then 
annually  grown  in  the  kingdom,  was  somewhat  less  than  ten 
millions  of  quarters.  The  wheat,  which  was  then  cultivated 
only  on  the  strongest  clay,  and  consumed  only  by  those  who 
were  in  easy  circumstances,  he  estimated  at  less  than  two 
millions  of  quarters.  Charles  Davenant,  an  acute  and  well 
informed  though  most  unprincipled  and   rancorous  politician, 

*  See  White's  Selborne  ;  Bell's  History  of  British  Quadrupeds  ;  Gentle- 
man's Recreation,  1686  ;  Aubrey's  Natural  History  of  Wiltshire,  1685  ; 
Morton's  History  of  Northamptonshire,  1712  ;  Willoughby's  Ornithology, 
by  Ray,  1678  ;  Latham's  General  Synopsis  of  Birds  ;  and  Sir  Thomas 
Browne's  Account  of  Birds  found  in  Norfolk. 


differed  from  King  as  to  some  of  the  items  of  the  account,  but 
came  to  nearly  the  same  general  conclusions.* 

The  rotation  of  crops  was  very  imperfectly  understood.  It 
was  known,  indeed,  that  some  vegetables  lately  introduced 
into  our  island,  particularly  the  turnip,  afforded  excellent 
nutriment  in  winter  to  sheep  and  oxen  :  but  it  was  not  yet  the 
practice  to  feed  cattle  in  this  manner.  It  was  therefore  by  no 
means  easy  to  keep  them  alive  during  the  season  when  the 
grass  is  scanty.  They  were  killed  and  salted  in  great  numbers 
at  the  beginning  of  the  cold  weather ;  and,  during  several 
months,  even  the  gentry  tasted  scarcely  any  fresh  animal  food, 
except  game  and  river  fish,  which  were  consequently  much 
more  important  articles  in  housekeeping  than  at  present.  It 
appears  from  the  Northumberland  Household  Book  that,  in 
the  reign  of  Henry  the  Seventh,  fresh  meat  was  never  eaten 
even  by  the  gentlemen  attendant  on  a  great  Earl,  except 
during  the  short  interval  between  Midsummer  and  Michaelmas. 
But  in  the  course  of  two  centuries  an  improvement  had  taken 
place ;  and  under  Charles  the  Second  it  was  not  till  the 
beginning  of  November  that  families  laid  in  their  stock  of 
salt  provisions,  then  called  Martinmas  beef.f 

The  sheep  and  the  ox  of  that  time  were  diminutive  when 
compared  with  the  sheep  and  oxen  which  are  now  driven  to 
our  markets.  J  Our  native  horses,  though  serviceable,  were 
held  in  small  esteem,  and  fetched  low  prices.  They  were 
valued,  one  with  another,  by  the  ablest  of  those  who  computed 
the  national  wealth,  at  not  more  than  fifty  shillings  each. 
Foreign  breeds  were  greatly  preferred.  Spanish  jennets  were 
regarded  as  the  finest  chargers,  and  were  imported  tor  purposes 
of  pageantry  and  war.  The  coaches  of  the  aristocracy  were 
drawn  by  grey  Flemish  mares,  which  trotted,  as  it  was  thought, 
with  a  peculiar  grace,  and  endured  better  than  any  cattle 
reared  in  our  island  the  work  of  dragging  a  ponderous  equipage 
over  the  rugged  pavement  of  London.  Neither  the  modern 
dray  horse  nor  the  modern  race  horse  was  then  known.  At  a 
much  later  period  the  ancestors  of  the  gigantic  quadrupeds, 
which  all  foreigners  now  class  among  the  chief  wonders  of 
London,  were  brought  from  the  marshes  of  Walcheren  ;  the 
ancestors  of  Childers  and  Echpse  from  the  sands  of  Arabia. 

*  King's  Natural  and  Political  Conclusions.  Davenant  on  the  Balance 
of  Trade. 

t  See  the  Almanacks  of  1684  and  1685. 

X  See  Mr.  M'Culloch's  Statistical  Account  of  the  British  Empire,  part 
III.  chap.  i.  sec.  6. 

ENGLAND     IN     1685  237 

Already,  however,  there  was  among  our  nobility  and  gentry  a 
passion  for  the  amusements  of  the  turf.  The  importance  of 
improving  our  studs  by  an  infusion  of  new  blood  was  strongly 
felt ;  and  with  this  view  a  considerable  number  of  barbs  had 
lately  been  brought  into  the  country.  Two  men  whose 
authority  on  such  subjects  was  held  in  great  esteem,  the  Duke 
of  Newcastle  and  Sir  John  Fenwick,  pronounced  that  the 
meanest  hack  ever  imported  from  Tangier  would  produce  a 
finer  progeny  than  could  be  expected  from  the  best  sire  of  our 
native  breed.  They  would  not  readily  have  believed  that  a 
time  would  come  when  the  princes  and  nobles  of  neighbour- 
ing lands  would  be  as  eager  to  obtain  horses  from  England  as 
ever  the  English  had  been  to  obtain  horses  from  Barbary.* 

The  increase  of  vegetable  and  animal  produce,  though  great, 
seems  small  when  compared  with  the  increase  of  our  mineral 
wealth.  In  1685  the  tin  of  Cornwall,  which  had,  more  than 
two  thousand  years  before,  attracted  the  Tyrian  sails  beyond 
the  pillars  of  Hercules,  was  still  one  of  the  most  valuable  sub- 
terranean productions  of  the  island.  The  quantity  annually 
extracted  from  the  earth  was  found  to  be,  some  years  later, 
sixteen  hundred  tons,  probably  about  a  third  of  what  it  now 
is.f  But  the  veins  of  copper  which  lie  in  the  same  region 
were,  in  the  time  of  Charles  the  Second,  altogether  neglected, 
nor  did  any  landowner  take  them  into  the  account  in  estimat- 
ing the  value  of  his  property.  Cornwall  and  Wales  at  present 
yield  annually  near  fifteen  thousand  tons  of  copper,  worth  near 
a  million  and  a  half  sterling ;  that  is  to  say,  worth  about  twice 
as  much  as  the  annual  produce  of  all  English  mines  of  all 
descriptions  in  the  seventeenth  century.  J  The  first  bed  of 
rock  salt  had  been  discovered  not  long  after  the  Restoration 
in  Cheshire,  but  does  not  appear  to  have  been  worked  in  that 
age.  The  salt  which  was  obtained  by  a  rude  process  from 
brine  pits  was  held  in  no  high  estimation.  The  pans  in  w^hich 
the  manufacture  was  carried  on  exhaled  a  sulphurous  stench ; 

*  King  and  Davenant  as  before  ;  The  Duke  of  Newcastle  on  Horseman- 
ship ;  Gentleman's  Recreation,  1686.  The  "dappled  Flanders  mares" 
were  marks  of  greatness  in  the  time  of  Pope,  and  even  later. 

The  vulgar  proverb,  that  the  grey  mare  is  the  better  horse,  originated,  I 
suspect,  in  the  preference  generally  given  to  the  grey  mares  of  Flanders 
over  the  finest  coach  horses  of  England. 

t  See  a  curious  note  by  Tonkin,  in  Lord  De  Dunstanville's  edition  of 
Carew's  Survey  of  Cornwall. 

X  Borlase's  Natural  History  of  Cornwall,  1758.  The  quantity  of 
copper  now  produced,  I  have  taken  from  parliamentary  returns.  Dave- 
nant, in  1700,  estimated  the  annual  produce  of  all  the  mines  of  England 
at  between  seven  and  eight  hundred  thousand  pounds. 


and,  when  the  evaporation  was  complete,  the  substance  which 
was  left  was  scarcely  fit  to  be  used  with  food.  Physicians  at- 
tributed the  scorbutic  and  pulmonary  complaints  which  were 
common  among  the  English  to  this  unwholesome  condiment. 
It  was  therefore  seldom  used  by  the  upper  and  middle  classes ; 
and  there  was  a  regular  and  considerable  importation  from 
France.  At  present  our  springs  and  mines  not  only  supply  our 
own  immense  demand,  but  send  annually  more  than  seven 
hundred  millions  of  pounds  of  excellent  salt  to  foreign 

Far  more  important  has  been  the  improvement  of  our  iron 
works.  Such  works  had  long  existed  in  our  island,  but  had 
not  prospered,  and  had  been  regarded  with  no  favourable  eye 
by  the  government  and  by  the  public.  It  was  not  then  tlie 
practice  to  employ  coal  for  smelting  the  ore ;  and  the  rapid 
consumption  of  wood  excited  the  alarm  of  politicians.  As 
early  as  the  reign  of  Elizabeth  there  had  been  loud  complaints 
that  whole  forests  were  cut  down  for  the  purpose  of  feeding 
the  furnaces :  and  the  parliament  had  interfered  to  prohibit 
the  manufacturers  from  burning  timber.  The  manufacture 
consequently  languished.  At  the  close  of  the  reign  of  Charles 
the  Second,  great  part  of  the  iron  which  was  used  in  the 
country  was  imported  from  abroad ;  and  the  whole  quantity 
cast  here  annually  seems  not  to  have  exceeded  ten  thousand 
tons.  At  present  the  trade  is  thought  to  be  in  a  depressed 
state  if  less  than  a  million  of  tons  are  produced  in  a  year.f 

One  mineral,  perhaps  more  important  than  iron  itself, 
remains  to  be  mentioned.  Coal,  though  very  little  used  in  any 
species  of  manufacture,  was  already  the  ordinary  fuel  in  some 
districts  which  were  fortunate  enough  to  possess  large  beds, 
and  in  the  capital,  which  could  easily  be  supplied  by  water 
carriage.  It  seems  reasonable  to  believe  that  at  least  one  half 
of  the  quantity  then  extracted  from  the  pits  was  consumed  in 
London.  The  consumption  of  London  seemed  to  the  writers 
of  that  age  enormous,  and  was  often  mentioned  by  them  as  a 
proof  of  the  greatness  of  the  imperial  city.  They  scarcely 
hoped  to  be  believed  when  they  affirmed  that  two  hundred  and 
eighty  thousand  chaldrons,  that  is  to  say,  about  three  hundred 
and  fifty  thousand  tons,  were,  in  the  last  year  of  the  reign  of 

*  Philosophical  Transactions,  No.  53.  Nov.  1669,  No.  66.  Dec.  1670, 
No.  103.  May  1674,  No.  156.  Feb.  i68|. 

t  Yarranton,  England's  Improvement  by  Sea  and  Land,  1677  ;  Porter's 
Progress  of  the  Nation.  See  also  a  remarkably  perspicuous  history,  in 
small  compass,  of  the  English  iron  works,  in  Mr.  M'Culloch's  Statistical 
Account  of  the  British  Empire. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  239 

Charles  the  Second,  brought  to  the  Thames.  At  present  near 
three  milUon  and  a  half  of  tons  are  required  yearly  by  the 
metropolis ;  and  the  whole  annual  produce  cannot,  on  the 
most  moderate  computation,  be  estimated  at  less  than  thirty 
millons  of  tons.* 

While  these  great  changes  have  been  in  progress,  the  rent  of 
land  has,  as  might  be  expected,  been  almost  constantly  rising. 
In  some  districts  it  has  multiplied  more  than  tenfold.  In  some 
it  has  not  more  than  doubled.  It  has  probably,  on  the  average, 

Of  the  rent,  a  large  proportion  was  divided  among  the 
country  gentlemen,  a  class  of  persons  whose  position  and 
character  it  is  most  important  that  we  should  clearly  under- 
stand ;  for  by  their  influence  and  by  their  passions  the  fate  of 
the  nation  was,  at  several  important  conjunctures,  determined. 

We  should  be  much  mistaken  if  we  pictured  to  ourselves  the 
squires  of  the  seventeenth  century  as  men  bearing  a  close 
resemblance  to  their  descendants,  the  county  members  and 
chairmen  of  quarter  sessions  with  whom  we  are  familiar.  The 
modern  country  gentleman  generally  receives  a  liberal  educa- 
tion, passes  from  a  distinguished  school  to  a  distinguished 
college,  and  has  every  opportunity  to  become  an  excellent 
scholar.  He  has  generally  seen  something  of  foreign  countries. 
A  considerable  part  of  his  life  has  generally  been  passed  in 
the  capital ;  and  the  refinements  of  the  capital  follow  him 
into  the  country.  There  is  perhaps  no  class  of  dwellings  so 
pleasing  as  the  rural  seats  of  the  English  gentry.  In  the  parks 
and  pleasure  grounds,  nature,  dressed  yet  not  disguised  by  art, 
wears  her  most  alluring  form.  In  the  buildings,  good  sense 
and  good  taste  combine  to  produce  a  happy  union  of  the 
comfortable  and  the  graceful.  The  pictures,  the  musical 
instruments,  the  library,  would  in  any  other  country  be  con- 
sidered as  proving  the  owner  to  be  an  eminently  polished  and 
accomplished  man.  A  country  gentleman  who  witnessed  the 
Revolution  was  probably  in  receipt  of  about  a  fourth  part  of 
the  rent  which  his  acres  now  yield  to  his  posterity.  He  was, 
therefore,  as  compared  with  his  posterity,  a  poor  man,  and  was 
generally  under  the  necessity  of  residing,  with  little  interruption, 
on  his  estate.  To  travel  on  the  Continent,  to  maintain  an 
establishment  in  London,  or  even  to  visit  London  frequently, 

*  See  Chamberlayne's  State  of  England,  1684,  1687  ;  Anglise  Metropolis, 
1691  ;  M'Culloch's  Statistical  Account  of  the  British  Empire,  Part  III. 
chap.  ii.  (edition  of  1847).  In  1845  the  quantity  of  coal  brought  into 
London  appeared,  by  the  parliamentary  returns,  to  be  3,460,000  tons. 


were  pleasures  in  which  only  the  great  proprietors  could 
indulge.  It  may  be  confidently  affirmed  that  of  the  squires 
whose  names  were  then  in  the  Commissions  of  Peace  and 
Lieutenancy  not  one  in  twenty  went  to  town  once  in  five  years, 
or  had  ever  in  his  life  wandered  so  far  as  Paris.  Many  lords 
of  manors  had  received  an  education  differing  little  from  that 
of  their  menial  servants.  The  heir  of  an  estate  often  passed 
his  boyhood  and  youth  at  the  seat  of  his  family  with  no  better 
tutors  than  grooms  and  gamekeepers,  and  scarce  attained 
learning  enough  to  sign  his  name  to  a  Mittimus.  If  he  went 
to  school  and  to  college,  he  generally  returned  before  he  was 
twenty  to  the  seclusion  of  the  old  hall,  and  there,  unless  his 
mind  were  very  happily  constituted  by  nature,  soon  forgot  his 
academical  pursuits  in  rural  business  and  pleasures.  His 
chief  serious  employment  was  the  care  of  his  property.  He 
examined  samples  of  grain,  handled  pigs,  and,  on  market  days, 
made  bargains  over  a  tankard  with  drovers  and  hop  merchants. 
His  chief  pleasures  were  commonly  derived  from  field  sports 
and  from  an  unrefined  sensuality.  His  language  and  pro- 
nunciation were  such  as  we  should  now  expect  to  hear 
only  from  the  most  ignorant  clowns.  His  oaths,  coarse 
jests,  and  scurrilous  terms  of  abuse,  were  uttered  with  the 
broadest  accent  of  his  province.  It  was  easy  to  discern, 
from  the  first  words  which  he  spoke,  whether  he  came 
from  Somersetshire  or  Yorkshire.  He  troubled  himself  little 
about  decorating  his  abode,  and,  if  he  attempted  decoration, 
seldom  produced  anything  but  deformity.  The  litter  of  a 
farmyard  gathered  under  the  windows  of  his  bedchamber,  and 
the  cabbages  and  gooseberry  bushes  grew  close  to  his  hall  door. 
His  table  was  loaded  with  coarse  plenty  ;  and  guests  were 
cordially  welcomed  to  it  But,  as  the  habit  of  drinking  to 
excess  was  general  in  the  class  to  which  he  belonged,  and  as 
his  fortune  did  not  enable  him  to  intoxicate  large  assemblies 
daily  with  claret  or  canary,  strong  beer  was  the  ordinary  bever- 
age. The  quantity  of  beer  consumed  in  those  days  was  indeed 
enormous.  For  beer  then  was  to  the  middle  and  lower  classes, 
not  only  all  that  beer  now  is,  but  all  that  wine,  tea,  and  ardent 
spirits  now  are.  It  was  only  at  great  houses,  or  on  great  occa- 
sions, that  foreign  drink  was  placed  on  the  board.  The  ladies- 
of  the  house,  whose  business  it  had  commonly  been  to  cook 
the  repast,  retired  as  soon  as  the  dishes  had  been  devoured, 
and  left  the  gentlemen  to  their  ale  and  tobacco.  The  coarse 
jollity  of  the  afternoon  was  often  prolonged  till  the  revellers 
were  laid  under  the  table. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  24T 

It  was  very  seldom  that  the  country  gentleman  caught 
glimpses  of  the  great  world ;  and  what  he  saw  of  it  tended 
rather  to  confuse  than  to  enlighten  his  understanding.  His 
opinions  respecting  religion,  government,  foreign  countries  and 
former  times,  having  been  derived,  not  from  study,  from 
observation,  or  from  conversation  with  enlightened  com- 
panions, but  from  such  traditions  as  were  current  in  his  own 
small  circle,  were  the  opinions  of  a  child.  He  adhered  to 
them,  however,  with  the  obstinacy  which  is  generally  found  in 
ignorant  men  accustomed  to  be  fed  with  flattery.  His 
animosities  were  numerous  and  bitter.  He  hated  Frenchmen 
and  Italians,  Scotchmen  and  Irishmen,  Papists  and  Presby- 
terians, Independents  and  Baptists,  Quakers  and  Jews. 
Towards  London  and  Londoners  he  felt  an  aversion  which 
more  than  once  produced  important  political  effects.  His 
wife  and  daughter  were  in  tastes  and  acquirements  below  a 
housekeeper  or  a  stillroom  maid  of  the  present  day.  They 
stitched  and  spun,  brewed  gooseberry  wine,  cured  marigolds, 
and  made  the  crust  for  the  venison  pasty. 

From  this  description  it  might  be  supposed  that  the  English 
esquire  of  the  seventeenth  century  did  not  materially  differ 
from  a  rustic  miller  or  alehouse  keeper  of  our  time.  There 
are,  however,  some  important  parts  of  his  character  still  to  be 
noted,  which  will  greatly  modify  this  estimate.  Unlettered  as 
he  was  and  unpolished,  he  was  still  in  some  most  important  points 
a  gentleman.  He  was  a  member  of  a  proud  and  powerful 
aristocracy,  and  was  distinguished  by  many  both  of  the  good 
and  of  the  bad  qualities  which  belong  to  aristocrats.  His 
family  pride  was  beyond  that  of  a  Talbot  or  a  Howard.  He 
knew  the  genealogies  and  coats  of  arms  of  all  his  neighbours, 
and  could  tell  which  of  them  had  assumed  supporters  without 
any  right,  and  which  of  them  were  so  unfortunate  as  to  be  great 
grandsons  of  aldermen.  He  was  a  magistrate,  and,  as  such, 
administered  gratuitously  to  those  who  dwelt  around  him  a 
rude  patriarchal  justice,  which,  in  spite  of  innumerable  blunders 
and  of  occasional  acts  of  tyranny,  was  yet  better  than  no 
justice  at  all.  He  was  an  officer  of  the  trainbands ;  and  his 
military  dignity,  though  it  might  move  the  mirth  of  gallants 
who  had  served  a  campaign  in  Flanders,  raised  his  character 
in  his  own  eyes  and  in  the  eyes  of  his  neighbours.  Nor 
indeed  was  his  soldiership  justly  a  subject  of  derision.  In 
every  county  there  were  elderly  gentlemen  who  had  seen 
service  which  was  no  child's  play.  One  had  been  knighted  by 
Charles  the  First,  after  the  battle  of  Edgehill.     Another  still 


wore  a  patch  over  the  scar  which  he  had  received  at  Naseby. 
A  third  had  defended  his  old  house  till  Fairfax  had  blown  in 
the  door  with  a  petard.  The  presence  of  these  old  Cavaliers, 
with  their  old  swords  and  holsters,  and  with  their  old  stories 
about  Goring  and  Lunsford,  gave  to  the  musters  of  militia  an 
earnest  and  warlike  aspect  which  would  otherwise  have  been 
wanting.  Even  those  country  gentlemen  who  were  too  young 
to  have  themselves  exchanged  blows  with  the  cuirassiers  of  the 
Parliament  had,  from  childhood,  been  surrounded  by  the 
traces  of  recent  war,  and  fed  with  stories  of  the  martial 
exploits  of  their  fathers  and  uncles.  Thus  the  character  of  the 
English  esquire  of  the  seventeenth  century  was  compounded 
of  two  elements  which  we  are  not  accustomed  to  find  united. 
His  ignorance  and  uncouthness,  his  low  tastes  and  gross 
phrases,  would,  in  our  time,  be  considered  as  indicating  a 
nature  and  a  breeding  thoroughly  plebeian.  Yet  he  was 
essentially  a  patrician,  and  had,  in  large  measure,  both  the 
virtues  and  the  vices  which  flourish  among  men  set  from  their 
birth  in  high  place,  and  accustomed  to  authority,  to  observance, 
and  to  self-respect.  It  is  not  easy  for  a  generation  which  is 
accustomed  to  find  chivalrous  sentiments  only  in  company 
with  liberal  studies  and  polished  manners  to  image  to  itself  a 
man  with  the  deportment,  the  vocabulary,  and  the  accent  of  a 
carter,  yet  punctilious  on  matters  of  genealogy  and  precedence, 
and  ready  to  risk  his  life  rather  than  see  a  stain  cast  on  the 
honour  of  his  house.  It  is  however  only  by  thus  joining 
together  things  seldom  or  never  found  together  in  our  own 
experience,  that  we  can  form  a  just  idea  of  that  rustic  aristo- 
cracy which  constituted  the  main  strength  of  the  armies  of 
Charles  the  First,  and  which  long  supported,  with  strange 
fidelity,  the  interest  of  his  descendants. 

The  gross,  uneducated,  untravelled  country  gentleman  was 
commonly  a  Tory :  but,  though  devotedly  attached  to 
hereditary  monarchy,  he  had  no  partiality  for  courtiers  and 
ministers.  He  thought,  not  without  reason,  that  Whitehall 
was  filled  with  the  most  corrupt  of  mankind  :  that  of  the  great 
sums  which  the  House  of  Commons  had  voted  to  the  crown 
since  the  Restoration  part  had  been  embezzled  by  cunning 
politicians,  and  part  squandered  on  buffoons  and  foreign- 
courtesans.  His  stout  English  heart  swelled  with  indignation 
at  the  thought  that  the  government  of  his  country  should  be 
subject  to  French  dictation.  Being  himself  generally  an  old 
Cavalier,  or  the  son  of  an  old  Cavalier,  he  reflected  with  bitter 
resentment   on   the   ingratitude   with  which  the  Stuarts   had 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  243 

requited  their  best  friends.  Those  who  heard  him  grumble  at 
the  neglect  with  which  he  was  treated,  and  at  the  profusion 
with  which  wealth  was  lavished  on  the  bastards  of  Nell  Gwynn 
and  Madam  Carwell,  would  have  supposed  him  ripe  for 
rebellion.  But  all  this  ill  humour  lasted  only  till  the  throne 
was  really  in  danger.  It  was  precisely  when  those  whom  the 
sovereign  had  loaded  with  wealth  and  honours  shrank  from  his 
side  that  the  country  gentlemen,  so  surly  and  mutinous  in  the 
season  of  his  prosperity,  rallied  round  him  in  a  body.  Thus, 
after  murmuring  twenty  years  at  the  misgovernment  of  Charles 
the  Second,  they  came  to  his  rescue  in  his  extremity,  when  his 
own  Secretaries  of  State  and  Lords  of  the  Treasury  had 
deserted  him,  and  enabled  him  to  gain  a  complete  victory  over 
the  opposition  ;  nor  can  there  be  any  doubt  that  they  would 
have  shown  equal  loyalty  to  his  brother  James,  if  James  would, 
even  at  the  last  moment,  have  refrained  from  outraging  their 
strongest  feeling.  For  there  was  one  institution,  and  one  only, 
which  they  prized  even  more  than  hereditary  monarchy ;  and 
that  institution  was  the  Church  of  England.  Their  love  of  the 
Church  was  not,  indeed,  the  effect  of  study  or  meditation.  Few 
among  them  could  have  given  any  reason,  drawn  from  Scripture 
or  ecclesiastical  history,  for  adhering  to  her  doctrines,  her  ritual, 
and  her  polity  ;  nor  were  they,  as  a  class,  by  any  means  strict 
observers  of  that  code  of  morality  which  is  common  to  all 
Christian  sects.  But  the  experience  of  many  ages  proves 
that  men  may  be  ready  to  fight  to  the  death,  and  to  persecute 
without  pity,  for  a  religion  whose  creed  they  do  not  understand, 
and  whose  precepts  they  habitually  disobey.* 

The  rural  clergy  were  even  more  vehement  in  Toryism  than 
the  rural  gentry,  and  were  a  class  scarcely  less  important.  It 
is  to  be  observed,  however,  that  the  individual  clergyman,  as 
compared  with  the  individual  gentleman,  then  ranked  much 
lower  than  in  our  days.  The  main  support  of  the  Church  was 
derived  from  the  tithe ;  and  the  tithe  bore  to  the  rent  a  much 
smaller  ratio  than  at  present.  King  estimated  the  whole  income 
of  the  parochial  and  collegiate  clergy  at  only  four  hundred  and 
eighty  thousand  pounds  a  year  ;  Davenant  at  only  five  hundred 
and  forty-four  thousand  a  year.  It  is  certainly  now  more  than 
seven  times  as  great  as  the  larger  of  these  two  sums.  The 
average  rent  of  the   land  has  not,  according  to  any  estimate, 

*  My  notion  of  the  country  gentleman  of  the  seventeenth  centurj'  has  been 
derived  from  sources  too  numerous  to  be  recapitulated.  I  must  leave  my 
description  to  the  judgment  of  those  who  have  studied  the  history  and  the 
lighter  literature  of  that  age. 


increased  proportionally.  It  follows  that  rectors  and  vicars 
must  have  been,  as  compared  with  the  neighbouring  knights 
and  squires,  much  poorer  in  the  seventeenth  than  in  the 
nineteenth  century. 

The  place  of  the  clergyman  in  society  had  been  completely 
changed  by  the  Reformation.  Before  that  event,  ecclesiastics 
had  formed  the  majority  of  the  House  of  Lords,  had,  in  wealth 
and  splendour,  equalled,  and  sometimes  outshone,  the  greatest 
of  the  temporal  barons,  and  had  generally  held  the  highest 
civil  offices.  The  Lord  Treasurer  was  often  a  Bishop.  The 
Lord  Chancellor  was  almost  always  so.  The  Lord  Keeper  of 
the  Privy  Seal  and  the  Master  of  the  Rolls  were  ordinarily 
churchmen.  Churchmen  transacted  the  most  important 
diplomatic  business.  Indeed,  almost  all  that  large  portion 
of  the  administration  which  rude  and  warlike  nobles  were 
incompetent  to  conduct  was  considered  as  especially  belonging 
to  divines.  Men,  therefore,  who  were  averse  to  the  life  of 
camps,  and  who  were,  at  the  same  time,  desirous  to  rise  in  the 
state,  ordinarily  received  the  tonsure.  Among  them  were  sons 
of  all  the  most  illustrious  families,  and  near  kinsmen  of  the 
throne,  Scroops  and  Nevilles,  Bourchiers,  Staffords,  and  Poles. 
To  the  religious  houses  belonged  the  rents  of  immense  domains, 
and  all  that  large  portion  of  the  tithe  which  is  now  in  the  hands 
of  laymen.  Down  to  the  middle  of  the  reign  of  Henry  the 
Eighth,  therefore,  no  line  of  life  bore  so  inviting  an  aspect  to 
ambitious  and  covetous  natures  as  the  priesthood.  Then 
came  a  violent  revolution.  The  abolition  of  the  monasteries 
deprived  the  Church  at  once  of  the  greater  part  of  her  wealth, 
and  of  her  predominance  in  the  Upper  House  of  Parliament. 
There  was  no  longer  an  Abbot  of  Glastonbury  or  an  Abbot  of 
Reading  seated  among  the  peers,  and  possessed  of  revenues 
equal  to  those  of  a  powerful  Earl.  The  princely  splendour  of 
William  of  Wykeham  and  of  William  of  Waynfiete  had  disap- 
peared. The  scarlet  hat  of  the  Cardinal,  the  silver  cross  of 
the  Legate,  were  no  more.  The  clergy  had  also  lost  the 
ascendency  which  is  the  natural  reward  of  superior  mental 
cultivation.  Once  the  circumstance  that  a  man  could  read 
had  raised  a  presumption  that  he  was  in  orders.  But,  in  an 
age  which  produced  such  laymen  as  William  Cecil  and  Nicholas 
Bacon,  Roger  Ascham  and  Thomas  Smith,  Walter  Mildmay 
and  Francis  Walsingham,  there  was  no  reason  for  calling  away 
prelates  from  their  dioceses  to  negotiate  treaties,  to  superintend 
the  finances,  or  to  administer  justice.  The  spiritual  character 
not  only  ceased  to  be  a  qualification  for  high  civil  office,  but 

ENGLAND     IN     1685  245 

began  to  be  regarded  as  a  disqualification.  Those  worldly 
motives,  therefore,  which  had  formerly  induced  so  many  able, 
aspiring,  and  high  born  youths  to  assume  the  ecclesiastical 
habit,  ceased  to  operate.  Not  one  parish  in  two  hundred  then 
afforded  what  a  man  of  family  considered  as  a  maintenance. 
There  were  still  indeed  prizes  in  the  Church :  but  they  were 
few  ;  and  even  the  highest  were  mean,  when  compared  with 
the  glory  which  had  once  surrounded  the  princes  of  the 
hierarchy.  The  state  kept  by  Parker  and  Grindal  seemed 
beggarly  to  those  who  remembered  the  imperial  pomp  of 
Wolsey,  his  palaces,  which  had  become  the  favourite  abodes  of 
royalty,  Whitehall  and  Hampton  Court,  the  three  sumptuous 
tables  daily  spread  in  his  refectory,  the  forty-four  gorgeous 
copes  in  his  chapel,  his  running  footmen  in  rich  liveries,  and 
his  body  guards  with  gilded  poleaxes.  Thus  the  sacerdotal 
office  lost  its  attraction  for  the  higher  classes.  During  the 
century  which  followed  the  accession  of  Elizabeth,  scarce  a 
single  person  of  noble  descent  took  orders.  At  the  close  of 
the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second,  two  sons  of  peers  were 
Bishops ;  four  or  five  sons  of  peers  were  priests,  and  held 
valuable  preferment :  but  these  rare  exceptions  did  not  take 
away  the  reproach  which  lay  on  the  body.  The  clergy  were 
regarded  as,  on  the  whole,  a  plebeian  class.  And,  indeed,  for 
one  who  made  the  figure  of  a  gentleman,  ten  were  mere  menial 
servants.  A  large  proportion  of  those  divines  who  had  no 
benefices,  or  whose  benefices  were  too  small  to  afford  a  com- 
fortable revenue,  lived  in  the  houses  of  laymen.  It  had  long 
been  evident  that  this  practice  tended  to  degrade  the  priestly 
character.  Laud  had  exerted  himself  to  effect  a  change ;  and 
Charles  the  First  had  repeatedly  issued  positive  orders  that 
none  but  men  of  high  rank  should  presume  to  keep  domestic 
chaplains.*  But  these  injunctions  had  become  obsolete. 
Indeed,  during  the  domination  of  the  Puritans,  many  of  the 
ejected  ministers  of  the  Church  of  England  could  obtain  bread 
and  shelter  only  by  attaching  themselves  to  the  households  of 
royalist  gentlemen  ;  and  the  habits  which  had  been  formed  in 
those  times  of  trouble  continued  long  after  the  re-establishment 
of  monarchy  and  episcopacy.  In  the  mansions  of  men  of 
liberal  sentiments  and  cultivated  understandings,  the  chaplain 
was  doubtless  treated  with  urbanity  and  kindness.  His  con- 
versation, his  literary  assistance,  his  spiritual  advice,  were 
considered  as  an  ample  return  for  his  food,  his  lodging,  and 
his  stipend.  But  this  was  not  the  general  feeling  of  the 
*  See  Heylin's  Cyprianus  Anglicus. 


country  gentlemen.  The  coarse  and  ignorant  squire,  who 
thought  that  it  belonged  to  his  dignity  to  have  grace  said  every 
day  at  his  table  by  an  ecclesiastic  in  full  canonicals,  found 
means  to  reconcile  dignity  with  economy.  A  young  Levite — 
such  was  the  phrase  then  in  use — might  be  had  for  his  board, 
a  small  garret,  and  ten  pounds  a  year,  and  might  not  only 
perform  his  own  professional  functions,  might  not  only  be  the 
most  patient  of  butts  and  of  listeners,  might  not  only  be 
always  ready  in  fine  weather  for  bowls,  and  in  rainy  weather 
for  shovelboard,  but  might  also  save  the  expense  of  a  gardener, 
or  of  a  groom.  Sometimes  the  reverend  man  nailed  up  the 
apricots,  and  sometimes  he  curried  the  coach  horses.  He 
cast  up  the  farrier's  bills.  He  walked  ten  miles  with  a  message 
or  a  parcel.  He  was  permitted  to  dine  with  the  family ;  but 
he  was  expected  to  content  himself  with  the  plainest  fare.  He 
might  fill  himself  with  the  corned  beef  and  the  carrots  :  but,  as 
soon  as  the  tarts  and  the  cheesecakes  made  their  appearance, 
he  quitted  his  seat,  and  stood  aloof  till  he  was  summoned  to 
return  thanks  for  the  repast,  from  a  great  part  of  which  he  had 
been  excluded.* 

Perhaps,  after  some  years  of  service,  he  was  presented  to 
a  living  sufficient  to  support  him :  but  he  often  found  it 
necessary  to  purchase  his  preferment  by  a  species  of  Simony, 
which  furnished  an  inexhaustible  subject  of  pleasantry  to  three 
or  four  generations  of  scoffers.  With  his  cure  he  was  expected 
to  take  a  wife.  The  wife  had  ordinarily  been  in  the  patron's 
service ;  and  it  was  well  if  she  was  not  suspected  of  standing 
too  high  in  the  patron's  favour.  Indeed,  the  nature  of  the 
matrimonial  connections  which  the  clergymen  of  that  age  were 
in  the  habit  of  forming  is  the  most  certain  indication  of  the 
place  which  the  order  held  in  the  social  system.  An  Oxonian, 
writing  a  few  months  after  the  death  of  Charles  the  Second, 
complained  bitterly,  not  only  that  the  country  attorney  and  the 
country  apothecary  looked  down  with  disdain  on  the  country 
clergyman,  but  that  one  of  the  lessons  most  earnestly  inculcated 
on  every  girl  of  honourable  family  was  to  give  no  encourage- 
ment to  a  lover  in  orders,  and  that,  if  any  young  lady  forgot 
this  precept,  she  was  almost  as  much  disgraced  as  by  an  illicit 
amour. t     Clarendon,  who    assuredly  bore   no    ill  will  to  the 

*  Eachard,  Causes  of  the  Contempt  of  the  Clergy ;  Oldham,  Satire 
addressed  to  a  Friend  about  to  leave  the  University  ;  Tatler,  255.  258. 
That  the  English  clergy  were  a  lowborn  class,  is  remarked  in  the  Travels 
of  the  Grand  Duke  Cosmo.     Appendix  A. 

t  '*  A  causidico,  medicastro,  ipsaque  artificum  farragine,  ecclesise  rector 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  247 

Church,  mentions  it  as  a  sign  of  the  confusion  of  ranks  which 
the  great  rebelHon  had  produced,  that  some  damsels  of  noble 
families  had  bestowed  themselves  on  divines.*  A  waiting 
woman  was  generally  considered  as  the  most  suitable  helpmate 
for  a  parson.  Queen  Elizabeth,  as  head  of  the  Church,  had 
given  what  seemed  to  be  a  formal  sanction  to  this  prejudice, 
by  issuing  special  orders  that  no  clergyman  should  presume 
to  marry  a  servant  girl,  without  the  consent  of  the  master 
or  mistress.!  During  several  generations  accordingly  the 
relation  between  priests  and  handmaidens  was  a  theme  for 
endless  jest ;  nor  would  it  be  easy  to  find,  in  the  comedy  of 
the  seventeenth  century,  a  single  instance  of  a  clergyman  who 
wins  a  spouse  above  the  rank  of  a  cook.  J  Even  so  late  as  the 
time  of  George  the  Second,  the  keenest  of  all  observers  of  life 
and  manners,  himself  a  priest,  remarked  that,  in  a  great 
household,  the  chaplain  was  the  resource  of  a  lady's  maid 
whose  character  had  been  blown  upon,  and  who  was  therefore 
forced  to  give  up  hopes  of  catching  the  steward.  § 

In  general  the  divine  who  quitted  his  chaplainship  for  a 
benefice  and  a  wife  found  that  he  had  only  exchanged  one 
class  of  vexations  for  another.  Not  one  living  in  fifty  enabled 
the  incumbent  to  bring  up  a  family  comfortably.  As  children 
multiplied  and  grew,  the  household  of  the  priest  became  more 
and  more  beggarly.  Holes  appeared  more  and  more  plainly  in 
the  thatch  of  his  parsonage  and  in  his  single  cassock.  Often 
it  was  only  by  toiling  on  his  glebe,  by  feeding  swine,  and  by 
loading  dungcarts,  that  he  could  obtain  daily  bread  ;  nor  did 
his  utmost  exertions  always  prevent  the  bailiffs  from  taking  his 
concordance  and  his  inkstand  in  execution.  It  was  a  white 
day  on  which  he  was  admitted  into  the  kitchen  of  a  great  house, 
and  regaled  by  the  servants  with  cold  meat  and  ale.  His 
children  were  brought  up  like  the  children  of  the  neighbouring 
peasantry.     His  boys  followed  the  plough  ;  and  his  girls  went 

aut  vicarius  contemnitur  et  fit  ludibrio.  Gentis  et  familiae  nitor  sacris 
ordinibus  pollutus  censetur :  foeminisque  natalitio  insignibus  unicum 
inculcatur  saepius  prseceptum,  ne  modestise  naufragium  faciant,  aut,  (quod 
idem  auribus  tarn  delicatulis  sonat, )  ne  clerico  se  nuptas  dari  patiantur. " 
Anglise  Notitia,  by  T.  Wood,  of  New  College,  Oxford,  16S6. 

*  Clarendon's  Life,  ii.  21. 

t  See  the  Injunctions  of  1559,  in  Bishop  Sparrow's  Collection.  Jeremy 
Collier,  in  his  Essay  on  Pride,  speaks  of  this  injunction  with  a  bitterness 
which  proves  that  his  own  pride  had  not  been  effectually  tamed. 

X  Roger  and  Abigail  in  Fletcher's  Scornful  Lady,  Bull  and  the  Nurse  in 
Vanbrugh's  Relapse,  Smirk  and  Susan  in  Shadwell's  Lancashire  Witches, 
are  instances. 

§  Swift's  Directions  to  Servants. 


out  to  service.  Study  he  found  impossible  :  for  the  advowson 
of  his  living  would  hardly  have  sold  for  a  sum  sufficient  to 
purchase  a  good  theological  library;  and  he  might  be  considered 
as  unusually  lucky  if  he  had  ten  or  twelve  dogeared  volumes 
among  the  pots  and  pans  on  his  shelves.  Even  a  keen  and 
strong  intellect  might  be  expected  to  rust  in  so  unfavourable  a 

Assuredly  there  was  at  that  time  no  lack  in  the  English 
Church  of  ministers  distinguished  by  abilities  and  learning. 
But  it  is  to  be  observed  that  these  ministers  were  not  scattered 
among  the  rural  population.  They  were  brought  together  at  a 
few  places  where  the  means  of  acquiring  knowledge  were 
abundant,  and  where  the  opportunities  of  vigorous  intellectual 
exercise  were  frequent.*  At  such  places  were  to  be  found 
divines  qualified  by  parts,  by  eloquence,  by  wide  knowledge 
of  literature,  of  science,  and  of  life,  to  defend  their  Church 
victoriously  against  heretics  and  sceptics,  to  command  the 
attention  of  frivolous  and  worldly  congregations,  to  guide  the 
deliberations  of  senates,  and  to  make  religion  respectable,  even 
in  the  most  dissolute  of  courts.  Some  laboured  to  fathom  the 
abysses  of  metaphysical  theology ;  some  were  deeply  versed  in 
biblical  criticism ;  and  some  threw  light  on  the  darkest  parts  of 
ecclesiastical  history.  Some  proved  themselves  consummate 
masters  of  logic.  Some  cultivated  rhetoric  with  such  assiduity 
and  success  that  their  discourses  are  still  justly  valued  as  models 
of  style.  These  eminent  men  were  to  be  found,  with  scarce  a 
single  exception,  at  the  Universities,  at  the  great  Cathedrals, 
or  in  the  capital.  Barrow  had  lately  died  at  Cambridge  ;  and 
Pearson  had  gone  thence  to  the  episcopal  bench,  Cudworth 
and  Henry  More  were  still  living  there.  South  and  Pococke, 
Jane  and  Aldrich,  were  at  Oxford.  Prideaux  was  in  the  close 
of  Norwich,  and  Whitby  in  the  close  of  Salisbury.  But  it  was 
chiefly  by  the  London  clergy,  who  were  always  spoken  of  as  a 
class  apart,  that  the  fame  of  their  profession  for  learning  and 
eloquence  was  upheld.  The  principal  pulpits  of  the  metropolis 
were  occupied  about  this  time  by  a  crowd  of  distinguished 
men,  from  among  whom  was  selected  a  large  proportion  of 
the  rulers  of  the  Church.  Sherlock  preached  at  the  Temple, 
Tillotson  at  Lincoln's  Inn,  Wake  and  Jeremy  Collier  at  Gray's- 
Inn,  Burnet  at  the  Rolls,  Stillingfleet  at  St.  Paul's  Cathedral, 
Patrick   at  St.  Paul's,  Covent  Garden,   Fowler  at  St.   Giles's, 

*  This  distinction  between  country  clergy  and  town  clergy  is  strongly 
marked  by  Eachard,  and  cannot  but  be  observed  by  every  person  who  has 
studied  the  ecclesiastical  history  of  that  age. 

ENGLAND     IN     1685  249 

Cripplegate,  Sharp  ac  St.  Giles's  in  the  Fields,  Tenison  at  St. 
Martin's,  Sprat  at  St.  Margaret's,  Beveridge  at  St.  Peter's  in 
Cornhill.  Of  these  twelve  men,  all  of  high  note  in  eccle- 
siastical history,  ten  became  Bishops,  and  four  Archbishops. 
Meanwhile  almost  the  only  important  theological  works  which 
came  forth  from  a  rural  parsonage  were  those  of  George  Bull, 
afterwards  Bishop  of  St.  David's ;  and  Bull  never  would  have 
produced  those  works,  had  he  not  inherited  an  estate,  by  the 
sale  of  which  he  was  enabled  to  collect  a  library,  such  as 
probably  no  other  country  clergyman  in  England  possessed.* 

Thus  the  Anglican  priesthood  was  divided  into  two  sections, 
which,  in  acquirements,  in  manners,  and  in  social  position, 
differed  widely  from  each  other.  One  section,  trained  for  cities 
and  courts,  comprised  men  familiar  with  all  ancient  and 
modern  learning ;  men  able  to  encounter  Hobbes  or  Bossuet 
at  all  the  weapons  of  controversy ;  men  who  could,  in  their 
sermons,  set  forth  the  majesty  and  beauty  of  Christianity  with 
such  justness  of  thought,  and  such  energy  of  language,  that  the 
indolent  Charles  roused  himself  to  listen,  and  the  fastidious 
Buckingham  forgot  to  sneer;  men  whose  address,  politeness, 
and  knowledge  of  the  world  qualified  them  to  manage  the 
consciences  of  the  wealthy  and  noble  ;  men  with  whom  Halifax 
loved  to  discuss  the  interests  of  empires,  and  from  whom 
Dryden  was  not  ashamed  to  own  that  he  had  learned  to  write,  t 
The  other  section  was  destined  to  ruder  and  humbler  service. 
It  was  dispersed  over  the  country,  and  consisted  chiefly  of  per- 
sons not  at  all  wealthier,  and  not  much  more  refined,  than 
small  farmers  or  upper  servants.  Yet  it  was  in  these  rustic 
priests,  who  derived  but  a  scanty  subsistence  from  their  tithe 
sheaves  and  tithe  pigs,  and  who  had  not  the  smallest  chance  of 
ever  attaining  high  professional  honours,  that  the  professional 
spirit  was  strongest.  Among  those  divines  who  were  the  boast 
of  the  Universities  and  the  delight  of  the  capital,  and  who  had 
attained,  or  might  reasonably  expect  to  attain,  opulence  and 
lordly  rank,  a  party,  respectable  in  numbers,  and  more 
respectable  in  character,  leaned  towards  constitutional  principles 
of  government,  lived  on  friendly  terms  with  Presbyterians, 
Independents,    and    Baptists,    would   gladly  have  seen  a  full 

*  Nelson's  Life  of  Bull.  As  to  the  extreme  difficulty  which  the  country 
clergy  found  in  procuring  books,  see  the  Life  of  Thomas  Bray,  the  founder 
of  the  Society  for  the  Propagation  of  the  Gospel. 

t  "I  have  frequently  heard  him  (Dryden)  own  with  pleasure,  that  if  he 
had  any  talent  for  English  prose  it  was  owing  to  his  having  often  read  the 
writings  of  the  great  Archbishop  Tillotson."  Congreve's  Dedication  of 
Dryden's  Plays. 


toleration  granted  to  all  Protestant  sects,  and  would  even  have 
consented  to  make  alterations  in  the  Liturgy,  for  the  purpose  of 
conciliating  honest  and  candid  Nonconformists.  But  such 
latitudinarianism  was  held  in  horror  by  the  country  parson. 
He  was,  indeed,  prouder  of  his  ragged  gown  than  his  superiors 
of  their  lawn  and  of  their  scarlet  hoods.  The  very  conscious- 
ness that  there  was  little  in  his  worldly  circumstances  to 
distinguish  him  from  the  villagers  to  whom  he  preached  led 
him  to  hold  immoderately  high  the  dignity  of  that  sacerdotal 
ofifice  which  was  his  single  title  to  reverence.  Having  lived  in 
seclusion,  and  having  had  little  opportunity  of  correcting  his 
opinions  by  reading  or  conversation,  he  held  and  taught  the 
doctrines  of  indefeasible  hereditary  right,  of  passive  obedience, 
and  of  nonresistance  in  all  their  crude  absurdity.  Having 
been  long  engaged  in  a  petty  war  against  the  neighbouring 
dissenters,  he  too  often  hated  them  for  the  wrongs  which  he  had 
done  them,  and  found  no  fault  with  the  Five  Mile  Act  and  the 
Conventicle  Act,  except  that  those  odious  laws  had  not 
a  sharper  edge.  Whatever  influence  his  ofifice  gave  him  was 
exerted  with  passionate  zeal  on  the  Tory  side;  and  that 
influence  was  immense.  It  would  be  a  great  error  to  imagine, 
because  the  country  rector  was  in  general  not  regarded  as  a 
gentleman,  because  he  could  not  dare  to  aspire  to  the  hand  of 
one  of  the  young  ladies  at  the  manor  house,  because  he  was 
not  asked  into  the  parlours  of  the  great,  but  was  left  to  drink 
and  smoke  with  grooms  and  butlers,  that  the  power  of  the 
clerical  body  was  smaller  than  at  present.  The  influence  of 
a  class  is  by  no  means  proportioned  to  the  consideration 
which  the  members  of  that  class  enjoy  in  their  individual 
capacity.  A  Cardinal  is  a  much  more  exalted  personage  than 
a  begging  friar  :  but  it  would  be  a  grievous  mistake  to  suppose 
that  the  College  of  Cardinals  has  exercised  a  greater  dominion 
over  the  public  mind  of  Europe  than  the  Order  of  Saint 
Francis.  In  Ireland,  at  present,  a  peer  holds  a  far  higher 
station  in  society  than  a  Roman  Catholic  priest :  yet  there  are 
in  Munster  and  Connaught  few  counties  where  a  combination 
of  priests  would  not  carry  an  election  against  a  combination  of 
peers.  In  the  seventeenth  century  the  pulpit  was  to  a  large 
portion  of  the  population  what  the  periodical  press  now  is. 
Scarce  any  of  the  clowns  who  came  to  the  parish  church  ever 
saw  a  Gazette  or  a  political  pamphlet.  Ill  informed  as  their 
spiritual  pastor  might  be,  he  was  yet  better  informed  than 
themselves :  he  had  every  week  an  opportunity  of  haranguing 
them  ;  and   his   harangues   were   never  answered.     At  every 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  2^1 

important  conjuncture,  invectives  against  the  Whigs  and 
exhortations  to  obey  the  Lord's  anointed  resounded  at  once 
from  many  thousands  of  pulpits  ;  and  the  effect  was  formidable 
indeed.  Of  all  the  causes  which,  after  the  dissolution  of  the 
Oxford  Parliament,  produced  the  violent  reaction  against  the 
Exclusionists,  the  most  potent  seems  to  have  been  the  oratory 
of  the  country  clergy. 

The  power  which  the  country  gentlemen  and  the  country 
clergymen  exercised  in  the  rural  districts  was  in  some  measure 
counterbalanced  by  the  power  of  the  yeomanry,  an  eminently 
manly  and  truehearted  race.  The  petty  proprietors  who  culti- 
vated their  own  fields  with  their  own  hands,  and  enjoyed  a 
modest  competence,  without  affecting  to  have  scutcheons  and 
crests,  or  aspiring  to  sit  on  the  bench  of  justice,  then  formed  a 
much  more  important  part  of  the  nation  than  at  present.  If  we 
may  trust  the  best  statistical  writers  of  that  age,  not  less  than  a 
hundred  and  sixty  thousand  proprietors,  who  with  their  families 
must  have  made  up  more  than  a  seventh  of  the  whole  popula- 
tion, derived  their  subsistence  from  little  freehold  estates.  The 
average  income  of  these  small  landholders,  an  income  made  up 
of  rent,  profit,  and  wages,  was  estimated  at  between  sixty  and 
seventy  pounds  a  year.  It  was  computed  that  the  number  of 
persons  who  tilled  their  own  land  was  greater  than  the  number 
of  those  who  farmed  the  land  of  others.*  A  large  portion  of 
the  yeomanry  had,  from  the  time  of  the  Reformation,  leaned 
towards  Puritanism,  had,  in  the  civil  war,  taken  the  side  of  the 
Parhament,  had,  after  the  Restoration,  persisted  in  hearing 
Presbyterian  and  Independent  preachers,  had,  at  elections, 
strenuously  supported  the  Exclusionists,  and  had  ^ntinued, 
even  after  the  discoverv  of  the  Rye  House  plot  and  the  pro- 
scription of  the  Whig  leaders,  to  regard  Popery  and  arbitrary 
power  with  unmitigated  hostility. 

Great  as  has  been  the  change  in  the  rural  life  of  England 
since  the  Revolution,  the  change  which  has  come  to  pass  in  the 
cities  is  still  more  amazing.  At  present  a  sixth  part  of  the 
nation  is  crowded  into  provincial  towns  of  more  than  thirty 
thousand  inhabitants.  In  the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second  no 
provincial  town  in  the  kingdom  contained  thirty  thousand 
inhabitants  ;  and  only  four  provincial  towns  contained  so  many 
as  ten  thousand  inhabitants. 

Next  to  the  capital,  but  next  at  an  immense  distance,  stood 
Bristol,  then  the  first  English  seaport,  and  Norwich,  then  the 

*  I  have  taken  Davenant's  estimate,  which  is  a  little  lower  than 


first  English  manufacturing  town.  Both  have  since  that  time 
been  far  outstripped  by  younger  rivals ;  yet  both  have 
made  great  positive  advances.  The  population  of  Bristol  has 
quadrupled.  The  population  of  Norwich  has  more  than 

Pepys,  who  visited  Bristol  eight  years  after  the  Restoration, 
was  struck  by  the  splendour  of  the  city.  But  his  standard  was 
not  high  ;  for  he  noted  down  as  a  wonder  the  circumstance 
that,  in  Bristol,  a  man  might  look  round  him  and  see  nothing 
but  houses.  It  seems  that,  in  no  other  place  with  which  he 
was  acquainted,  except  London,  did  the  buildings  completely 
shut  out  the  woods  and  fields.  Large  as  Bristol  might  then 
appear,  it  occupied  but  a  very  small  portion  of  the  area  on 
which  it  now  stands.  A  few  churches  of  eminent  beauty  rose 
out  of  a  labyrinth  of  narrow  lanes  built  upon  vaults  of  no  great 
solidity.  If  a  coach  or  a  cart  entered  those  alleys,  there  was 
danger  that  it  would  be  wedged  between  the  houses,  and 
danger  also  that  it  would  break  in  the  cellars.  Goods  were 
therefore  conveyed  about  the  town  almost  exclusively  in  trucks 
drawn  by  dogs ;  and  the  richest  inhabitants  exhibited  their 
wealth,  not  by  riding  in  gilded  carriages,  but  by  walking  the 
streets  with  trains  of  servants  in  rich  liveries,  and  by  keeping 
tables  loaded  with  good  cheer.  The  pomp  of  the  christenings 
and  burials  far  exceeded  what  was  seen  at  any  other  place  in 
England.  The  hospitality  of  the  city  was  widely  renowned, 
and  especially  the  collations  with  which  the  sugar  refiners 
regaled  their  visitors.  The  repast  was  dressed  in  the  furnace, 
and  was  accompanied  by  a  rich  brewage  made  of  the  best 
Spanish  wine,  and  celebrated  over  the  whole  kingdom  as  Bristol 
milk.  This  luxury  was  supported  by  a  thriving  trade  with  the 
North  American  plantations  and  with  the  West  Indies.  The 
passion  for  colonial  traffic  was  so  strong  that  there  was  scarce 
a  small  shopkeeper  in  Bristol  who  had  not  a  venture  on  board 
of  some  ship  bound  for  Virginia  or  the  Antilles.  Some  of 
these  ventures  indeed  were  not  of  the  most  honourable  kind. 
There  was,  in  the  Transatlantic  possessions  of  the  crown  a 
great  demand  for  labour ;  and  this  demand  was  partly  supplied 
by  a  system  of  crimping  and  kidnapping  at  the  principal 
English  seaports.  Nowhere  was  this  system  found  in  such 
active  and  extensive  operation  as  at  Bristol.  Even  the  first 
magistrates  of  that  city  were  not  ashamed  to  enrich  themselves 
by  so  odious  a  commerce.  The  number  of  houses  appears, 
from  the  returns  of  the  hearth  money,  to  have  been,  in  the 
year  1685,  just  five  thousand  three  hundred.     We  can  hardly 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  253 

suppose  the  number  of  persons  in  a  house  to  have  been  greater 
than  in  the  City  of  London ;  and  in  the  City  of  London  we 
learn  from  the  best  authority  that  there  were  then  fifty-five 
persons  to  ten  houses.  The  population  of  Bristol  must  there- 
fore have  been  about  twenty-nine  thousand  souls.* 

Norwich  was  the  capital  of  a  large  and  fruitful  province.  It 
was  the  residence  of  a  Bishop  and  of  a  chapter.  It  was  the 
chief  seat  of  the  chief  manufacture  of  the  realm.  Some 
men  distinguished  by  learning  and  science  had  recently  dwelt 
there ;  and  no  place  in  the  kingdom,  except  the  capital  and  the 
Universities,  had  more  attractions  for  the  curious.  The  library, 
the  museum,  the  aviary,  and  the  botanical  garden  of  Sir  Thomas 
Browne,  were  thought  by  Fellows  of  the  Royal  Society  well 
worthy  of  a  long  pilgrimage.  Norwich  had  also  a  court  in 
miniature.  In  the  heart  of  the  city  stood  an  old  palace  of  the 
Dukes  of  Norfolk,  said  to  be  the  largest  town  house  in  the 
kingdom  out  of  London.  In  this  mansion,  to  which  were 
annexed  a  tennis  court,  a  bowling  green,  and  a  wilderness, 
stretching  along  the  banks  of  the  Wansum,  the  noble  family  of 
Howard  frequently  resided,  and  kept  a  state  resembling  that  of 
petty  sovereigns.  Drink  was  served  to  guests  in  goblets  of  pure 
gold.  The  very  tongs  and  shovels  were  of  silver.  Pictures  by 
Italian  masters  adorned  the  walls.  The  cabinets  were  filled 
with  a  fine  collection  of  gems  purchased  by  that  Earl  of 
Arundel  whose  marbles  are  now  among  the  ornaments  of 
Oxford.  Here,  in  the  year  167 1,  Charles  and  his  court  were 
sumptuously  entertained.  Here,  too,  all  comers  were  annually 
welcomed,  from  Christmas  to  Tw^elfth  Night.  Ale  flowed  in 
oceans  for  the  populace.  Three  coaches,  one  of  which  had 
been  built  at  a  cost  of  five  hundred  pounds  to  contain  fourteen 
persons,  were  sent  every  afternoon  round  the  city  to  bring 
ladies  to  the  festivities  ;  and  the  dances  were  always  followed 
by  a  luxurious  banquet.  When  the  Duke  of  Norfolk  came 
to  Norwich,  he  was  greeted  like  a  King  returning  to  his 
capital.     The  bells  of  the  Cathedral  and  of  Saint  Peter  Man- 

*  Evelyn's  Diary,  June  27.  1654  ;  Pepys's  Diary,  June  13.  1668  ;  Roger 
North's  Lives  of  Lord  Keeper  Guildford,  and  of  Sir  Dudley  North  ;  Petty's 
Political  Arithmetic.  I  have  taken  Petty's  facts,  but,  in  drawing  infer- 
ences from  them,  I  have  been  guided  by  King  and  Davenant,  who,  though 
not  abler  men  than  he,  had  the  advantage  of  coming  after  him.  As  to  tlie 
kidnapping  for  which  Bristol  was  infamous,  see  North's  Life  of  Guildford, 
121.  216.,  and  the  harangue  of  Jeffreys  on  the  subject,  in  the  Impartial 
History  of  his  Life  and  Death,  printed  with  the  Bloody  Assizes.  His 
style  was,  as  usual,  coarse  ;  but  I  cannot  reckon  the  reprimand  which  he 
gave  to  the  magistrates  of  Bristol  among  his  crimes. 

2  54  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

croft  were  rung :  the  guns  of  the  Castle  were  fired  ;  and 
the  Mayor  and  Aldermen  waited  on  their  illustrious  fellow 
citizen  with  complimentary  addresses.  In  the  year  1693 
the  population  of  Norwich  was  found,  by  actual  enumera- 
tion, to  be  between  twenty-eight  and  twenty-nine  thousand 

Far  below  Norwich,  but  still  high  in  dignity  and  importance, 
were  some  other  ancient  capitals  of  shires.  In  that  age  it  was 
seldom  that  a  country  gentleman  went  up  with  his  family  to 
London.  The  county  town  was  his  metropolis.  He  some- 
times made  it  his  residence  during  part  of  the  year.  At  all 
events,  he  was  often  attracted  thither  by  business  and  pleasure, 
by  assizes,  quarter  sessions,  elections,  musters  of  militia, 
festivals,  and  races.  There  were  the  halls  where  the  judges, 
robed  in  scarlet  and  escorted  by  javelins  and  trumpets,  opened 
the  King's  commission  twice  a  year.  There  were  the  markets 
at  which  the  corn,  the  cattle,  the  wool,  and  the  hops  of  the 
surrounding  country  were  exposed  to  sale.  There  were  the 
great  fairs  to  which  merchants  came  down  from  London,  and 
where  the  rural  dealer  laid  in  his  annual  stores  of  sugar, 
stationery,  cutlery,  and  muslin.  There  were  the  shops  at 
which  the  best  families  of  the  neighbourhood  bought  grocery 
and  millinery.  Some  of  these  places  derived  dignity  from 
interesting  historical  recollections,  from  cathedrals  decorated 
by  all  the  art  and  magnificence  of  the  middle  ages,  from 
palaces  where  a  long  succession  of  prelates  had  dwelt,  from 
closes  surrounded  by  the  venerable  abodes  of  deans  and  canons, 
and  from  castles  which  had  in  the  old  time  repelled  the 
Nevilles  or  De  Veres,  and  which  bore  more  recent  traces  of 
the  vengeance  of  Rupert  or  of  Cromwell. 

Conspicuous  amongst  these  interesting  cities  were  York, 
the  capital  of  the  north,  and  Exeter,  the  capital  of  the  west. 
Neither  can  have  contained  much  more  than  ten  thousand 
inhabitants.  Worcester,  the  queen  of  the  cider  land,  had  about 
eight  thousand ;  Nottingham  probably  as  many.  Gloucester, 
renowned  for  that  resolute  defence  which  had  been  fatal  to 
Charles  the  First,  had  certainly  between  four  and  five  thousand  ; 
Derby  not  quite  four  thousand.  Shrewsbury  was  the  chief 
place  of  an  extensive  and  fertile  district.  The  court  of  the 
marches  of  Wales  was  held  there.     In   the  language  of  the 

*  Fuller's  Worthies  ;  Evelyn's  Diary,  Oct.  17.  1671  ;  Journal  of 
E.  Browne,  son  of  Sir  Thomas  Browne,  Jan.  i66f  ;  Blomefield's 
History  of  Norfolk  ;  History  of  the  City  and  County  of  Norwich,  2  vols. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  255 

gentry  many  miles  round  the  Wrekin,  to  go  to  Shrewsbury  was 
to  go  to  town.  The  provincial  wits  and  beauties  imitated,  as 
well  as  they  could,  the  fashions  of  Saint  James's  Park,  in  the 
walks  along  the  side  of  the  Severn.  The  inhabitants  were 
about  seven  thousand.* 

The  population  of  every  one  of  these  places  has,  since  the 
Revolution,  much  more  than  doubled.  The  population  of 
some  has  multiplied  sevenfold.  The  streets  have  been  almost 
entirely  rebuilt.  Slate  has  succeeded  to  thatch,  and  brick  to 
timber.  The  pavements  and  the  lamps,  the  display  of  wealth 
in  the  principal  shops,  and  the  luxurious  neatness  of  the 
dweUings  occupied  by  the  gentry  would,  in  the  seventeenth 
century,  have  seemed  miraculous.  Yet  is  the  relative  im- 
portance of  the  old  capitals  of  counties  by  no  means  what  it 
was.  Younger  towns,  towns  which  are  rarely  or  never 
mentioned  in  our  early  history  and  which  sent  no  representa- 
tives to  our  early  Parliaments,  have,  within  the  memory  of 
persons  still  living,  grown  to  a  greatness  which  this  generation 
contemplates  with  wonder  and  pride,  not  unaccompanied  by 
awe  and  anxiety. 

The  most  eminent  of  these  towns  were  indeed  known  in 
the  seventeenth  century  as  respectable  seats  of  industry.  Nay, 
their  rapid  progress  and  their  vast  opulence  were  then  some- 
times described  in  language  which  seems  ludicrous  to  a  man 
who  has  seen  their  present  grandeur.  One  of  the  most 
populous  and  prosperous  among  them  was  Manchester.  It 
had  been  required  by  the  Protector  to  send  one  representative 
to  his  Parliament,  and  was  mentioned  by  writers  of  the  time 
of  Charles  the  Second  as  a  busy  and  opulent  place.  Cotton 
had,  during  half  a  century,  been  brought  thither  from  Cyprus 
and  Smyrna  ;  but  the  manufacture  was  in  its  infancy.    Whitney 

*  The  population  of  York  appears,  from  the  return  of  baptisms  and 
burials,  in  Drake's  History,  to  have  been  about  13,000  in  1730.  Exeter 
had  only  17,000  inhabitants  in  1801.  The  population  of  Worcester  was 
numbered  just  before  the  siege  in  1646.  See  Nash's  History  of  Worcester- 
shire. I  have  made  allowance  for  the  increase  which  must  be  supposed  to 
have  taken  place  in  forty  years.  In  1740,  the  population  of  Nottingham 
was  found,  by  enumeration,  to  be  just  10,000.  See  Dering's  History.  The 
population  of  Gloucester  may  readily  be  inferred  from  the  number  of  houses 
which  King  found  in  the  returns  of  hearth  money,  and  from  the  number  of 
births  and  burials  which  is  given  in  Atkyns's  History.  The  population  of 
Derby  was  4000  in  1712.  See  Wolley's  MS.  History,  quoted  in  Lyson's 
Magna  Britannia.  The  population  of  Shrewsbury  was  ascertained,  in  1695, 
by  actual  enumeration.  As  to  the  gaieties  of  Shrewsbury,  see  Farquhar's 
Recruiting  Officer.  Farquhar's  description  is  borne  out  by  a  ballad  ia  the 
Pepysian  Library,  of  which  the  burden  is  "  Shrewsbury  for  me." 


had  not  yet  taught  how  the  raw  material  might  be  furnished 
in  quantities  almost  fabulous.  Arkwright  had  yet  not  taught 
how  it  might  be  worked  up  with  a  speed  and  precision  which 
seem  magical.  The  whole  annual  import  did  not,  at  the  end 
of  the  seventeenth  century,  amount  to  two  millions  of  pounds, 
a  quantity  which  would  now  hardly  supply  the  demand  of 
forty-eight  hours.  That  wonderful  emporium,  which  in 
population  and  wealth  far  surpasses  capitals  so  much  renowned 
as  Berlin,  Madrid,  and  Lisbon,  was  then  a  mean  and  ill  built 
market  town,  containing  under  six  thousand  people.  It  then 
had  not  a  single  press.  It  now  supports  a  hundred  printing 
establishments.  It  then  had  not  a  single  coach.  It  now 
supports  twenty  coachmakers.* 

Leeds  was  already  the  chief  seat  of  the  woollen  manufactures 
of  Yorkshire  :  but  the  elderly  inhabitants  could  still  remember 
the  time  when  the  first  brick  house,  then  and  long  after  called 
the  Red  House,  was  built.  They  boasted  loudly  of  their 
increasing  wealth,  and  of  the  immense  sales  of  cloth  which 
took  place  in  the  open  air  on  the  bridge.  Hundreds,  nay 
thousands  of  pounds,  had  been  paid  down  in  the  course  of 
one  busy  market  day.  The  rising  importance  of  Leeds  had 
attracted  the  notice  of  successive  governments.  Charles  the 
First  had  granted  municipal  privileges  to  the  town.  Oliver 
had  invited  it  to  send  one  member  to  the  House  of  Commons. 
But  from  the  returns  of  the  hearth  money  it  seems  certain 
that  the  whole  population  of  the  borough,  an  extensive  district 
which  contains  many  hamlets,  did  not,  in  the  reign  of  Charles 
the  Second,  exceed  seven  thousand  souls.  In  1841  there 
were  more  than  a  hundred  and  fifty  thousand.! 

About  a  day's  journey  south  of  Leeds,  on  the  verge  of  a 
wild  moorland  tract,  lay  an  ancient  manor,  now  rich  with 
cultivation,  then  barren  and  uninclosed,  which  was  known  by 
the  name  of  Hallamshire.  Iron  abounded  there  ;  and,  from  a 
very  early  period,  the  rude  whittles  fabricated  there  had  been 
sold  all  over  the  kingdom.  They  had  indeed  been  mentioned 
by  Geoffrey  Chaucer  in  one  of  his  Canterbury  Tales.  But  the 
manufacture  appears  to  have  made  little  progress  during  the 

•  Blome's  Britannia,  1673  ;  Aikin's  Country  round  Manchester  ;  Man- 
chester Directory,  1845 ;  Baines,  History  of  the  Cotton  Manufacture. 
The  best  information  which  I  have  been  able  to  find,  touching  the  popu- 
lation of  Manchester  in  the  seventeenth  century,  is  contained  in  a  paper 
drawn  up  by  the  Reverend  R.  Parkinson,  and  published  in  the  Journal  of 
the  Statistical  Society  for  October,  1842. 

t  Thoresby's  Ducatus  Leodensis  ;  Whitaker's  Loidis  and  Elmete ;  War- 
dell's  Municipal  History  of  the  Borough  of  Leeds. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  257 

three  centuries  which  followed  his  time.  This  languor  may 
perhaps  be  explained  by  the  fact  that  the  trade  was,  during 
almost  the  whole  of  this  long  period,  subject  to  such  regulations 
as  the  lord  and  his  court  leet  thought  fit  to  impose.  The  more 
delicate  kinds  of  cutlery  were  either  made  in  the  capital,  or 
brought  from  the  Continent.  It  was  not  indeed  till  the 
reign  of  George  the  First  that  the  English  surgeons  ceased 
CO  import  from  France  those  exquisitely  fine  blades  which  are 
required  for  operations  on  the  human  frame.  Most  of  the 
Hallamshire  forges  were  collected  in  a  market  town  which 
had  sprung  up  near  the  castle  of  the  proprietor,  and  which,  in 
the  reign  of  James  the  First,  had  been  a  singularly  miserable 
place,  containing  about  two  thousand  inhabitants,  of  whom  a 
third  were  half  starved  and  half  naked  beggars.  It  seems 
certain  from  the  parochial  registers  that  the  population  did  not 
amount  to  four  thousand  at  the  end  of  the  reign  of  Charles  the 
Second.  The  effects  of  a  species  of  toil  singularly  unfavour- 
able to  the  health  and  vigour  of  the  human  frame  were  at  once 
discerned  by  every  traveller.  A  large  proportion  of  the  people 
had  distorted  limbs.  This  is  that  Sheffield  which  now,  with 
its  dependencies,  contains  a  hundred  and  twenty  thousand 
souls,  and  which  sends  forth  its  admirable  knives,  razors,  and 
lancets  to  the  farthest  ends  of  the  world.* 

Birmingham  had  not  been  thought  of  sufificient  importance 
to  send  a  member  to  Oliver's  Parliament.  Yet  the  manu- 
facturers of  Birmingham  were  already  a  busy  and  thriving  race. 
They  boasted  that  their  hardware  was  highly  esteemed,  not 
indeed  as  now,  at  Pekin  and  Lima,  at  Bokhara  and  Timbuctoo, 
but  in  London,  and  even  as  far  off  as  Ireland.  They  had 
acquired  a  less  honourable  renown  as  coiners  of  bad  money. 
In  allusion  to  their  spurious  groats,  the  Tory  party  had  fixed 
on  demagogues,  who  hypocritically  affected  zeal  against  Popery, 
the  nickname  of  Birminghams.  Yet  in  1685  the  population, 
which  is  now  little  less  than  two  hundred  thousand,  did  not 
amount  to  four  thousand.  Birmingham  buttons  were  just 
beginning  to  be  known  :  of  Birmingham  guns  nobody  had  yet 
heard ;  and  the  place  whence,  two  generations  later,  the 
magnificent  editions  of  Baskerville  went  forth  to  astonish  all 
the  librarians  of  Europe,  did  not  contain  a  single  regular  shop 
where  a  Bible  or  an  almanack  could  be  bought.  On  market 
days  a  bookseller  named  Michael  Johnson,  the  father  of  the 
great  Samuel  Johnson,  came  over  from  Lichfield,  and  opened 

•  Hunter's  History  of  Hallamshire. 


a  Stall  durino;  a  few  hours.     This  supply  of  literature  was  long 
found  adequate  to  the  demand.* 

These  four  chief  seats  of  our  great  manufactures  deserve 
especial  mention.  It  would  be  tedious  to  enumerate  all  the 
populous  and  opulent  hives  of  industry  which,  a  hundred 
and  fifty  years  ago,  were  hamlets  without  a  parish  church, 
or  desolate  moors,  inhabited  only  by  grouse  and  wild  deer. 
Nor  has  the  change  been  less  signal  in  those  outlets  by 
which  the  products  of  English  looms  and  forges  are  poured 
forth  over  the  whole  world.  At  present  Liverpool  contains 
about  three  hundred  thousand  inhabitants.  The  shipping 
registered  at  her  port  amounts  to  between  four  and  five 
hundred  thousand  tons.  Into  her  custom  house  has  been 
repeatedly  paid  in  one  year  a  sum  more  than  thrice  as  great  as 
the  whole  income  of  the  English  crown  in  1685.  The  receipts 
of  her  post  office,  even  since  the  great  reduction  of  the  duty, 
exceed  the  sum  which  the  postage  of  the  whole  kingdom 
yielded  to  the  Duke  of  York.  Her  endless  docks,  quays  and 
warehouses  are  among  the  wonders  of  the  world.  Yet  even 
those  docks  and  quays  and  warehouses  seem  hardly  to  suffice 
for  the  gigantic  trade  of  the  Mersey  ;  and  already  a  rival  city 
is  growing  fast  on  the  opposite  shore.  In  the  days  of  Charles 
the  Second  Liverpool  was  described  as  a  rising  town  which 
had  recently  made  great  advances,  and  which  maintained  a 
profitable  intercourse  with  Ireland  and  with  the  sugar  colonies. 
The  customs  had  multiplied  eightfold  within  sixteen  years, 
and  amounted  to  what  was  then  considered  as  the  im.mense 
sum  of  fifteen  thousand  pounds  annually.  But  the  population 
can  hardly  have  exceeded  four  thousand  :  the  shipping  was 
about  fourteen  hundred  tons,  less  than  the  tonnage  of  a  single 
modern  Indiaman  of  the  first  class ;  and  the  whole  number  of 
seamen  belonging  to  the  port  cannot  be  estimated  at  more  than 
two  hundred.! 

*  Blome's  Britannia,  1673  >  Dugdale's  Warwickshire ;  North's  Examen, 
321.;  Preface  to  Absalom  and  Achitophel ;  Hutton's  History  of  Birming- 
ham ;  Boswell's  Life  of  Johnson.  In  1690  the  burials  at  Birmingham 
were  150,  the  baptisms  125.  I  think  it  probable  that  the  annual  mortality 
was  little  less  than  one  in  twenty-five.  In  London  it  was  considerably 
greater.  A  historian  of  Nottingham,  half  a  century  later,  boasted  of  the 
extraordinary  salubrity  of  his  town,  where  the  annual  mortality  was  one  in 
thirty.     See  Bering's  History  of  Nottingham. 

t  Blome's  Britannia  ;  Gregson's  Antiquities  of  the  County  Palatine  and 
Duchy  of  Lancaster,  Part  II.;  Petition  from  Liverpool  in  the  Privy 
Council  Book,  May  10.  1686.  In  1690  the  burials  at  Liverpool  were  151, 
the  baptisms  1 20.  In  1844  the  net  receipt  of  the  customs  at  Liverpool  was 
4,365,526/.  is.  Sd. 

ENGLAND     IN     I685  2^9 

Such  has  been  the  progress  of  those  towns  where  wealth  is 
created  and  accumulated.  Not  less  rapid  has  been  the 
progress  of  towns  of  a  very  different  kind,  towns  in  which 
wealth,  created  and  accumulated  elsewhere,  is  expended  for 
purposes  of  health  and  recreation.  Some  of  the  most  remark- 
able of  these  towns  have  sprung  into  existence  since  the  time 
of  the  Stuarts.  Cheltenham  is  now  a  greater  city  than  any 
which  the  kingdom  contained  in  the  seventeenth  century, 
London  alone  excepted.  But  in  the  seventeenth  century,  and 
at  the  beginning  of  the  eighteenth,  Cheltenham  was  mentioned 
by  local  historians  merely  as  a  rural  parish  lying  under  the 
Cotswold  Hills,  and  affording  good  ground,  both  for  tillage 
and  pasture.  Corn  grew  and  cattle  browsed  over  the  space 
now  covered  by  that  gay  succession  of  streets  and  villas.* 
Brighton  was  described  as  a  place  which  had  once  been 
thriving,  which  had  possessed  many  small  fishing  barks,  and 
which  had,  when  at  the  height  of  prosperity,  contained  above 
two  thousand  inhabitants,  but  which  was  sinking  fast  into  decay. 
The  sea  was  gradually  gaining  on  the  buildings,  which  at 
length  almost  entirely  disappeared.  Ninety  years  ago  the  ruins 
of  an  old  fort  were  to  be  seen  lying  among  the  pebbles  and 
seaweed  on  the  beach ;  and  ancient  men  could  still  point  out 
the  traces  of  foundations  on  a  spot  where  a  street  of  more  than 
a  hundred  huts  had  been  swallowed  up  by  the  waves.  So 
desolate  was  the  place  after  this  calamity,  that  the  vicarage  was 
thought  scarcely  worth  having.  A  few  poor  fishermen,  how- 
ever, still  continued  to  dry  their  nets  on  those  cUffs,  on  which 
now  a  town,  more  than  twice  as  large  and  populous  as  the 
Bristol  of  the  Stuarts,  presents,  mile  after  mile,  its  gay  and 
fantastic  front  to  the  sea.f 

England,  however,  was  not,  in  the  seventeenth  century, 
destitute  of  watering  places.  The  gentry  of  Derbyshire  and 
of  the  neighbouring  counties  repaired  to  Buxton,  where  they 
were  crowded  into  low  wooden  sheds,  and  regaled  with  oat- 
cake, and  with  a  viand  which  the  hosts  called  mutton,  but 
which  the  guests  strongly  suspected  to  be  dog.|  Tunbridge 
Wells,  lying  within  a  day's  journey  of  the  capital,  and  in  one  of 
the  richest  and  most  highly  civilised  parts  of  the  kingdom,  had 
much  greater  attractions.  At  present  we  see  there  a  town 
which  would,  a  hundred  and  sixty  years  ago,  have  ranked,  in 

*  Atkyns's  Gloucestershire. 

t  Magna  Britannia ;   Grose's   Antiquities  ;    New    Brighthelmstone    Di- 
rectory, 1770. 

X  Tour  in  Derbyshire,  by  Thomas  Browne,  son  of  Sir  Thomas. 


population,  fourth  or  fifth  among  the  towns  of  England.  The 
brilliancy  of  the  shops  and  the  luxury  of  the  private  dwellings 
far  surpasses  anything  that  England  could  then  show.  When 
the  court,  soon  after  the  Restoration,  visited  Tunbridge  Wells, 
there  was  no  town  :  but,  within  a  mile  of  the  spring,  rustic 
cottages,  somewhat  cleaner  and  neater  than  the  ordinary 
cottages  of  that  time,  were  scattered  over  the  heath.  Some  of 
these  cabins  were  moveable,  and  were  carried  on  sledges  from 
one  part  of  the  common  to  another.  To  these  huts  men  of 
fashion,  wearied  with  the  din  and  smoke  of  London,  sometimes 
came  in  the  summer  to  breathe  fresh  air,  and  to  catch  a 
glimpse  of  rural  life.  During  the  season  a  kind  of  fair  was 
daily  held  near  the  fountain.  The  wives  and  daughters  of  the 
Kentish  farmers  came  from  the  neighbouring  villages  with 
cream,  cherries,  wheatears,  and  quails.  To  chaffer  with  them, 
to  flirt  with  them,  to  praise  their  straw  hats  and  tight  heels,  was 
a  refreshing  pastime  to  voluptuaries  sick  of  the  airs  of  actresses 
and  maids  of  honour.  Milliners,  toymen,  and  jewellers  came 
down  from  London,  and  opened  a  bazaar  under  the  trees.  In 
one  booth  the  politician  might  find  his  coffee  and  the  London 
Gazette ;  in  another  were  gamblers  playing  deep  at  basset ; 
and,  on  fine  evenings,  the  fiddles  were  in  attendance,  and  there 
were  morris  dances  on  the  elastic  turf  of  the  bowling  green. 
In  1685  a  subscription  had  just  been  raised  among  those  who 
frequented  the  wells  for  building  a  church,  which  the  Tories, 
who  then  domineered  everywhere,  insisted  on  dedicating  to 
Saint  Charles  the  Martyr. 

But  at  the  head  of  the  English  watering  places,  without  a 
rival,  was  Bath.  The  springs  of  that  city  had  been  renowned 
from  the  days  of  the  Romans.  It  had  been,  during  many 
centuries,  the  seat  of  a  Bishop.  The  sick  repaired  thither  from 
every  part  of  the  realm.  The  King  sometimes  held  his  court 
there.  Nevertheless,  Bath  was  then  a  maze  of  only  four  or  five 
hundred  houses,  crowded  within  an  old  wall  in  the  vicinity  of 
the  Avon.  Pictures  of  what  were  considered  as  the  finest  of 
those  houses  are  still  extant,  and  greatly  resemble  the  lowest 
rag  shops  and  pothouses  of  Ratcliffe  Highway.  Even  then, 
indeed,  travellers  complained  of  the  narrowness  and  meanness 
of  the  streets.  That  beautiful  city  which  charms  even  eyes 
familiar  with  the  masterpieces  of  Bramante  and  Palladio,  and 
which  the  genius  of  Anstey  and  of  Smollett,  of  Frances  Burney 
and  of  Jane  Austen,  has  made  classic  ground,  had  not  begun 
to  exist.  Milsom  Street  itself  was  an  open  field  lying  far 
beyond  the  walls  ;  and  hedgerows  intersected  the  space  which 

ENGLAND    IN     1 685  26 1 

is  now  covered  by  the  Crescent  and  the  Circus.  The  poor 
patients  to  whom  the  waters  had  been  recommended  lay  on 
straw  in  a  place  which,  to  use  the  language  of  a  contemporary 
physician,  was  a  covert  rather  than  a  lodging.  As  to  the  com- 
forts and  luxuries  which  were  to  be  found  in  the  interior  of  the 
houses  of  Bath  by  the  fashionable  visitors  who  resorted  thither 
in  search  of  health  or  amusement,  we  possess  information  more 
complete  and  minute  than  can  generally  be  obtained  on  such 
subjects.  A  writer  who  published  an  account  of  that  city  about 
sixty  years  after  the  Revolution  has  accurately  described  the 
changes  which  had  taken  place  within  his  own  recollection. 
He  assures  us  that  in  his  younger  days  the  gentlemen  who 
visited  the  springs  slept  in  rooms  hardly  as  good  as  the  garrets 
which  he  lived  to  see  occupied  by  footmen.  The  floors  of  the 
dining  rooms  were  uncarpeted,  and  were  coloured  brown  with 
a  wash  made  of  soot  and  small  beer,  in  order  to  hide  the  dirt. 
Not  a  wainscot  was  painted.  Not  a  hearth  or  a  chimneypiece 
was  of  marble.  A  slab  of  common  freestone  and  fire  irons 
which  had  cost  from  three  to  four  shillings  were  thought 
sufficient  for  any  fireplace.  The  best  apartments  were  hung 
with  coarse  woollen  stuff,  and  were  furnished  with  rushbottomed 
chairs.  Readers  who  take  an  interest  in  the  progress  of  civilis- 
ation and  of  the  useful  arts  will  be  grateful  to  the  humble 
topographer  who  has  recorded  these  facts,  and  will  perhaps 
wish  that  historians  of  far  higher  pretensions  had  sometimes 
spared  a  few  pages  from  military  evolutions  and  political 
intrigues,  for  the  purpose  of  letting  us  know  how  the  parlours 
and  bedchambers  of  our  ancestors  looked.! 

The  position  of  London,  relatively  to  the  other  towns  of  the 
empire,  was,  in  the  time  of  Charles  the  Second,  far  higher  than 
at  present.  For  at  present  the  population  of  London  is  little 
more  than  six  times  the  population  of  Manchester  or  of 
Liverpool.  In  the  days  of  Charles  the  Second  the  population 
of  London  was  more  than  seventeen  times  the  population  of 
Bristol  or  of  Norwich.  It  may  be  doubted  whether  any  other 
instance  can  be  mentioned  of  a  great  kingdom  in  which  the 

*  Memoires  de  Grammont ;  Hasted's  History  of  Kent ;  Tunbridge  Wells, 
a  Comedy,  1678 ;  Causton's  Tunbridgialia,  16S8 ;  Metellus,  a  poem  on 
Tunbridge  Wells,  1693. 

t  See  Wood's  History  of  Bath,  1749 ;  Evelyn's  Diary,  June  27.  1654  ; 
Pepys's  Diary,  June  12.  1668  ;  Stukeley's  Itineraium  Curiosum  ;  Collmson's 
Somersetshire  ;  Dr.  Peirce's  History  and  Memoirs  of  the  Bath,  1713,  book 
I.  chap.  viii.  obs.  2.  1684.  I  have  consulted  several  old  maps  and  pictures 
of  Bath,  particularly  one  curious  map  which  is  surrounded  by  views  of  the 
principal  buildings.     It  bears  the  date  of  1717. 

2  62  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

first  city  was  more  than  seventeen  times  as  large  as  the  second. 
There  is  reason  to  believe  that,  in  1685,  London  had  been, 
during  about  half  a  century,  the  most  populous  capital  in 
Europe.  The  inhabitants,  who  are  now  at  least  nineteen 
hundred  thousand,  were  then  probably  little  more  than  half  a 
million.*  London  had  in  the  world  only  one  commercial 
rival,  now  long  outstripped,  the  mighty  and  opulent  Amsterdam. 
EngUsh  writers  boasted  of  the  forest  of  masts  and  yardarms 
which  covered  the  river  from  the  Bridge  to  the  Tower,  and 
of  the  stupendous  sums  which  were  collected  at  the  Custom 
House  in  Thames  Street.  There  is,  indeed,  no  doubt  that 
the  trade  of  the  metropolis  then  bore  a  far  greater  proportion 
than  at  present  to  the  whole  trade  of  the  country ;  yet  to  our 
generation  the  honest  vaunting  of  our  ancestors  must  appear 
almost  ludicrous.  The  shipping  which  they  thought  incredibly 
great  appears  not  to  have  exceeded  seventy  thousand  tons. 
This  was,  indeed,  then  more  than  a  third  of  the  whole  tonnage 
of  the  kingdom,  but  is  now  less  than  a  fourth  of  the  tonnage 
of  Newcastle,  and  is  nearly  equalled  by  the  tonnage  of  the 
steam  vessels  of  the  Thames.  The  customs  of  London 
amounted,  in  1685,  to  about  three  hundred  and  thirty  thou- 
sand pounds  a  year.  In  our  time  the  net  duty  paid  annually, 
at  the  same  place,  exceeds  ten  millions.! 

Whoever  examines  the  maps  of  London  which  were  pub- 
lished towards  the  close  of  the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second  will 
see  that  only  the  nucleus  of  the  present  capital  then  existed. 
The  town  did  not,  as  now,  fade  by  imperceptible  degrees  into 
the  country.  No  long  avenues  of  villas,  embowered  in  lilacs 
and  laburnums,  extended  from  the  great  centre  of  wealth  and 
civilisation  almost  to  the  boundaries  of  Middlesex  and  far 
into  the  heart  of  Kent  and  Surrey.  In  the  east,  no  part  of 
the  immense  line  of  warehouses  and  artificial  lakes  which  now 
spreads  from  the  Tower  to  Blackwall  had  even  been  projected. 
On  the  west,  scarcely  one  of  those  stately  piles  of  building 
which  are  inhabited  by  the  noble  and  wealthy  was  in  existence ; 
and  Chelsea,  which  is  now  peopled  by  more  than  forty 
thousand  human  beings,  was  a  quiet  country  village  with  about 
a  thousand  inhabitants.  J     On  the  north,  cattle  fed,  and  sports- " 

*  According  to  King,  530,000. 

+  Macpherson's  Histoi7  of  Commerce  ;  Chalmers's  Estimate  ;  Chamber- 
layne's  State  of  England,  1684.  The  tonnage  of  the  steamers  belonging 
to  the  port  of  London  was,  at  the  end  of  1847,  about  60,000  tons.  The 
customs  of  the  port,  from  1842  to  1845,  very  nearly  averaged  11,000,000/. 

+  Lyson's  Environs  of  London.  The  baptisms  at  Chelsea,  between 
1680  and  1690,  were  only  forty-two  a  year. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  263 

men  wandered  with  dogs  and  guns,  over  the  site  of  the 
borough  of  Marylebone,  and  over  far  the  greater  part  of  the 
space  now  covered  by  the  boroughs  of  Finsbury  and  of  the 
Tower  Hamlets.  Islington  was  almost  a  solitude ;  and  poets 
loved  to  contrast  its  silence  and  repose  with  the  din  and  tur- 
moil of  the  monster  London.*  On  the  south  the  capital  is 
now  connected  with  its  suburb  by  several  bridges,  not  inferior 
in  magnificence  and  solidity  to  the  noblest  works  of  the 
Caesars.  In  1685,  a  single  line  of  irregular  arches,  overhung 
by  piles  of  mean  and  crazy  houses,  and  garnished,  after  a 
fashion  worthy  of  the  naked  barbarians  of  Dahomy,  with  scores 
of  mouldering  heads,  impeded  the  navigation  of  the  river. 

Of  the  metropolis,  the  City,  properly  so  called,  was  the 
most  important  division.  At  the  time  of  the  Restoration  it 
had  been  built,  for  the  most  part,  of  wood  and  plaster  ;  the 
few  bricks  that  were  used  were  ill  baked ;  the  booths  where 
goods  were  exposed  to  sale  projected  far  into  the  streets,  and 
were  overhung  by  the  upper  stories.  A  few  specimens  of  this 
architecture  may  still  be  seen  in  those  districts  which  were  not 
reached  by  the  great  fire.  That  fire  had,  in  a  few  days, 
covered  a  space  of  little  less  than  a  square  mile  with  the  ruins 
of  eighty-nine  churches  and  of  thirteen  thousand  houses.  But 
the  City  had  risen  again  with  a  celerity  which  had  excited 
the  admiration  of  neighbouring  countries.  Unfortunately,  the 
old  lines  of  the  streets  had  been  to  a  great  extent  preserved ; 
and  those  lines,  originally  traced  in  an  age  when  even  prin- 
cesses performed  their  journeys  on  horseback,  were  often  too 
narrow  to  allow  wheeled  carriages  to  pass  each  other  with 
ease,  and  were  therefore  ill  adapted  for  the  residence  of 
wealthy  persons  in  an  age  when  a  coach  and  six  was  a 
fashionable  luxury.  The  style  of  building  was,  however,  far 
superior  to  that  of  the  City  which  had  perished.  The  ordi- 
nary material  was  brick,  of  much  better  quality  than  had 
formerly  been  used.  On  the  sites  of  the  ancient  parish 
churches  had  arisen  a  multitude  of  new  domes,  towers,  and 
spires  which  bore  the  mark  of  the  fertile  genius  of  Wren.  In 
every  place  save  one  the  traces  of  the  great  devastation  had 
been  completely  effaced.  But  the  crowds  of  workmen,  the 
scaffolds  and  the  masses  of  hewn  stone  were  still  to  be  seen 
where  the  noblest  of  Protestant  temples  was  slowly  rising  on 
the  ruins  of  the  old  Cathedral  of  St.  Paul.f 

*  Cowley,  Discourse  of  Solitude. 

t  The  fullest  and  most  trustworthy  information  about  the  state  of  the 
buildings  of  London  at  this  titne  is  to  be  derived  from  the  maps  and  draw- 


The  whole  character  of  the  City  has,  since  that  time, 
undergone  a  complete  change.  At  present  the  bankers,  the 
merchants,  and  the  chief  shopkeepers  repair  thither  on  six 
mornings  of  every  week  for  the  transaction  of  business :  but 
they  reside  in  other  quarters  of  the  metropolis,  or  at  suburban 
country  seats  surrounded  by  shrubberies  and  flower  gardens. 
This  revolution  in  private  habits  has  produced  a  political 
revolution  of  no  small  importance.  The  City  is  no  longer 
regarded  by  the  wealthiest  traders  with  that  attachment  which 
every  man  naturally  feels  for  his  home.  It  is  no  longer 
associated  in  their  minds  with  domestic  affections  and  endear- 
ments. The  fireside,  the  nursery,  the  social  table,  the  quiet 
bed  are  not  there.  Lombard  Street  and  Threadneedle  Street 
are  merely  places  where  men  toil  and  accumulate.  They  go 
elsewhere  to  enjoy  and  to  expend.  On  a  Sunday,  or  in  an 
evening  after  the  hours  of  business,  some  courts  and  alleys, 
which  a  few  hours  before  had  been  alive  with  hurrying  feet 
and  anxious  faces,  are  as  silent  as  the  glades  of  a  forest. 
The  chiefs  of  the  mercantile  interest  are  no  longer  citizens. 
They  avoid,  they  almost  contemn,  municipal  honours  and 
duties.  Those  honours  and  duties  are  abandoned  to  men 
who,  though  useful  and  highly  respectable,  seldom  belong  to 
the  princely  commercial  houses  of  which  the  names  are 
reijowned   throughout  the  world. 

In  the  seventeenth  century  the  City  was  the  merchant's 
residence.  Those  mansions  of  the  great  old  burghers  which 
still  exist  have  been  turned  into  counting  houses  and  ware- 
houses :  but  it  is  evident  that  they  were  originally  not  inferior 
in  magnificence  to  the  dwellings  which  were  then  inhabited 
by  the  nobility.  They  sometimes  stand  in  retired  and  gloomy 
courts,  and  are  accessible  only  by  inconvenient  passages : 
but  their  dimensions  are  ample,  and  their  aspect  stately. 
The  entrances  are  decorated  with  richly  carved  pillars  and 
canopies.  The  staircases  and  landing  places  are  not  wanting 
in  grandeur.  The  floors  are  sometimes  of  wood,  tessellated  after 
the  fashion  of  France.  The  palace  of  Sir  Robert  Clayton,  in 
the  Old  Jewry,  contained  a  superb  banqueting  room  wains- 
coted with  cedar,  and  adorned  with  battles  of  gods  and  giants 

ings  in  the  British  Museum  and  in  the  Pepysian  Library.  The  badness  of 
the  bricks  in  the  old  buildings  of  London  is  particularly  mentioned  in  the 
Travels  of  the  Grand  Duke  Cosmo.  There  is  an  account  of  the  works. at 
St.  Paul's  in  Ward's  London  Spy.  I  am  almost  ashamed  to  quote  such 
nauseous  balderdash ;  but  I  have  been  forced  to  descend  even  lower,  ii 
possible,  in  search  of  materials. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  265 

in  fresco.*  Sir  Dudley  North  expended  four  thousand  pounds, 
a  sum  which  would  then  have  been  important  to  a  Duke,  on 
the  rich  furniture  of  his  reception  rooms  in  Basinghall  Street.! 
In  such  abodes,  under  the  last  Stuarts,  the  heads  of  the  great 
firms  lived  splendidly  and  hospitably.  To  their  dwelling  place 
they  were  bound  by  the  strongest  ties  of  interest  and  affection. 
There  they  had  passed  their  youth,  had  made  their  friend- 
ships, had  courted  their  wives,  had  seen  their  children  grow 
up,  had  laid  the  remains  of  their  parents  in  the  earth,  and 
expected  that  their  own  remains  would  be  laid.  That  intense 
patriotism  which  is  peculiar  to  the  members  of  societies  con- 
gregated within  a  narrow  space  was,  in  such  circumstances, 
strongly  developed.  London  was,  to  the  Londoner,  what 
Athens  was  to  the  Athenian  of  the  age  of  Pericles,  what 
Florence  was  to  the  Florentine  of  the  fifteenth  century.  The 
citizen  was  proud  of  the  grandeur  of  his  city,  punctilious 
about  her  claims  to  respect,  ambitious  of  her  offices,  and 
zealous  for  her  franchises. 

At  the  close  of  the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second  the  pride 
of  the  Londoners  was  smarting  from  a  cruel  mortification. 
The  old  charter  had  been  taken  away ;  and  the  magistracy 
had  been  remodelled.  All  the  civic  functionaries  were  Tories ; 
and  the  Whigs,  though  in  numbers  and  in  wealth  superior 
to  their  opponents,  found  themselves  excluded  from  every 
local  dignity.  Nevertheless,  the  external  splendour  of  the 
municipal  government  was  not  diminished,  nay,  was  rather 
increased  by  this  change.  For,  under  the  administration  of 
some  Puritans  who  had  lately  borne  rule,  the  ancient  fame 
of  the  city  for  good  cheer  had  declined :  but  under  the  new 
magistrates,  who  belonged  to  a  more  festive  party,  and  at  whose 
boards  guests  of  rank  and  fashion  from  beyond  Temple  Bar 
were  often  seen,  the  Guildhall  and  the  halls  of  the  great  com- 
panies were  enlivened  by  many  sumptuous  banquets.  During 
these  repasts,  odes,  composed  by  the  poet  laureate  of  the 
corporation,  in  praise  of  the  King,  the  Duke,  and  the  Mayor, 
were  sung  to  music.  The  drinking  was  deep,  the  shouting 
loud.  An  observant  Tory,  who  had  often  shared  in  these 
revels,  has  remarked  that  the  practice  of  huzzaing  after 
drinking  healths  dates  from  this  joyous  period.  J 

*  Evelyn's  Diary,  Sept.  20.  1672. 
t  Roger  North's  Life  of  Sir  Dudley  North. 

X  North's  Examen.     This  most  amusing  writer  has  preserved  a  specimen 
of  the  sublime  raptures  in  which  the  Pindar  of  the  City  indulged  : — 
"  The  worshipful  Sir  John  Moor  I 
After  age  that  name  adore  ! " 


The  magnificence  displayed  by  the  first  civic  magistrate  was 
almost  regal.  The  gilded  coach,  indeed,  which  is  now  annually 
admired  by  the  crowd,  was  not  yet  a  part  of  his  state.  On 
great  occasions  he  appeared  on  horseback,  attended  by  a  long 
cavalcade  inferior  in  magnificence  only  to  that  which,  before 
a  coronation,  escorted  the  sovereign  from  the  Tower  to 
Westminster.  The  Lord  Mayor  was  never  seen  in  public 
without  his  rich  robe,  his  hood  of  black  velvet,  his  gold  chain, 
his  jewel,  and  a  great  attendance  of  harbingers  and  guards.* 
Nor  did  the  world  find  anything  ludicrous  in  the  pomp 
which  constantly  surrounded  him.  For  it  was  not  more 
than  proportioned  to  the  place  which,  as  wielding  the  strength 
and  representing  the  dignity  of  the  City  of  London,  he 
was  entitled  to  occupy  in  the  state.  That  City,  being  then 
not  only  without  equal  in  the  country,  but  without  second, 
had,  during  five  and  forty  years,  exercised  almost  as  great 
an  influence  on  the  politics  of  England  as  Paris  has,  in  our 
own  time,  exercised  on  the  politics  of  France.  In  intelligence 
London  was  greatly  in  advance  of  every  other  part  of  the 
kingdom.  A  government,  supported  and  trusted  by  London, 
could  in  a  day  obtain  such  pecuniary  means  as  it  would  have 
taken  months  to  collect  from  the  rest  of  the  island.  Nor  were 
the  military  resources  of  the  capital  to  be  despised.  The 
power  which  the  Lord  Lieutenants  exercised  in  other  parts  of 
the  kingdom  was  in  London  intrusted  to  a  Commission  of 
eminent  citizens.  Under  the  orders  of  this  Commission  were 
twelve  regiments  of  foot  and  two  regiments  of  horse.  An 
army  of  drapers'  apprentices  and  journeymen  tailors,  with 
common  councilmen  for  captains  and  aldermen  for  colonels, 
might  not  indeed  have  been  able  to  stand  its  ground  against 
regular  troops ;  but  there  were  then  very  few  regular  troops  in 
the  kingdom.  A  town,  therefore,  which  could  send  forth,  at 
an  hour's  notice,  twenty  thousand  men,  abounding  in  natural 
courage,  provided  with  tolerable  weapons,  and  not  altogether 
untinctured  with  martial  discipline,  could  not  but  be  a  valuable 
ally  and  a  formidable  enemy.  It  was  not  -forgotten  that 
Hampden  and  Pym  had  been  protected  from  lawless  tyranny 
by  the  London  trainbands  ;  that,  in  the  great  crisis  of  the 
civil  war,  the  London  trainbands  had  marched  to  raise  the 
siege  of  Gloucester;  or  that,  in  the  movement  against  the 
military  tyrants  which  followed  the  downfall  of  Richard 
Cromwell,  the    London  trainbands   had   borne  a  signal  part. 

*  Chamberlayne's  State  of  England,  1684  j  Anglise  Metropolis,  1690  j 
Seymour's  London,   1734. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  267 

In  truth,  it  is  no  exaggeration  to  say  that,  but  for  the  hostiHty 
of  the  City,  Charles  the  First  would  never  have  been  vanquished, 
and  that,  without  the  help  of  the  City,  Charles  the  Second 
could  scarcely  have  been  restored. 

These  considerations  may  serve  to  explain  why,  in  spite  of 
that  attraction  which  had,  during  a  long  course  of  years, 
gradually  drawn  the  aristocracy  westward,  a  few  men  of  high 
rank  had  continued,  till  a  very  recent  period,  to  dwell  in  the 
vicinity  of  the  Exchange  and  of  the  Guildhall.  Shaftesbury 
and  Buckingham,  while  engaged  in  bitter  and  unscrupulous 
opposition  to  the  government,  had  thought  that  they  could 
nowhere  carry  on  their  intrigues  so  conveniently  or  so  securely 
as  under  the  protection  of  the  City  magistrates  and  the  City 
militia.  Shaftesbury  had  therefore  lived  in  Aldersgate  Street, 
at  a  house  which  may  still  easily  be  known  by  pilasters  and 
wreaths,  the  graceful  work  of  Inigo.  Buckingham  had  ordered 
his  mansion  near  Charing  Cross,  once  the  abode  of  the 
Archbishops  of  York,  to  be  pulled  down ;  and,  while  streets 
and  alleys  which  are  still  named  after  him  were  rising  on  that 
site,  chose  to  reside  in  Dowgate.* 

These,  however,  were  rare  exceptions.  Almost  all  the  noble 
families  of  England  had  long  migrated  beyond  the  walls.  The 
district  where  most  of  their  town  houses  stood  lies  between  the 
City  and  the  regions  which  are  now  considered  as  fashionable. 
A  few  great  men  still  retained  their  hereditary  hotels  between 
the  Strand  and  the  river.  The  stately  dwellings  on  the  south 
and  west  of  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  the  Piazza  of  Covent  Garden, 
Southampton  Square,  which  is  now  called  Bloomsbury  Square, 
and  King's  Square  in  Soho  Fields,  which  is  now  called  Soho 
Square,  were  among  the  favourite  spots.  Foreign  princes  were 
carried  to  see  Bloomsbury  Square,  as  one  of  the  wonders  of 
England.!  Soho  Square,  which  had  just  been  built,  was  to  our 
ancestors  a  subject  of  pride  with  which  their  posterity  will 
hardly  sympathize.  Monmouth  Square  had  been  the  name 
while  the  fortunes  of  the  Duke  of  Monmouth  flourished  ;  and 
on  the  southern  side  towered  his  mansion.  The  front,  though 
ungraceful,  was  lofty  and  richly  adorned.  The  walls  of  the 
principal  apartments  were  finely  sculptured  with  fruit,  foliage, 
and  armorial  bearings,  and  were  hung  with  embroidered  satin,  if 

*  North's  Examen,  116.  Wood,  Ath.  Ox.  Shaftesbury.  The  Duke  ot 
B.'s  Litany. 

t  Travels  of  the  Grand  Duke  Cosmo. 

+  Chamberlayne's  State  of  England,  1684  ;  Pennant's  London  ;  Smith's 
Life  ol  NoUekens. 

2  68  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

Every  trace  of  this  magnificence  has  long  disappeared  ;  and  no 
aristocratical  mansion  is  to  be  found  in  that  once  aristocratical 
quarter.  A  little  way  north  from  Holborn,  and  on  the  verge  of 
the  pastures  and  cornfields,  rose  two  celebrated  palaces,  each 
with  an  ample  garden.  One  of  them,  then  called  Southampton 
House,  and  subsequently  Bedford  House,  was  removed  about 
fifty  years  ago  to  make  room  for  a  new  city,  which  now  covers, 
with  its  squares,  streets,  and  churches,  a  vast  area,  renowned  in 
the  seventeenth  century  for  peaches  and  snipes.  The  other, 
Montague  House,  celebrated  for  its  frescoes  and  furniture,  was, 
a  few  months  after  the  death  of  Charles  the  Second,  burned  to 
the  ground,  and  was  speedily  succeeded  by  a  more  magnificent 
Montague  House,  which,  having  been  long  the  repository  of 
such  various  and  precious  treasures  of  art,  science,  and  learning 
as  were  scarce  ever  before  assembled  under  a  single  roof,  has 
just  given  place  to  an  edifice  more  magnificent  still.* 

Nearer  to  the  court,  on  a  space  called  Saint  James's  Fields, 
had  just  been  built  Saint  James's  Square  and  Jermyn  Street. 
Saint  James's  Church  had  recently  been  opened  for  the 
accommodation  of  the  inhabitants  of  this  new  quarter.! 
Golden  Square,  which  was  in  the  next  generation  inhabited  by 
lords  and  ministers  of  state,  had  not  yet  been  begun.  Indeed  the 
only  dwellings  to  be  seen  on  the  north  of  Piccadilly  were  three 
or  four  isolated  and  almost  rural  mansions,  of  which  the  most 
celebrated  was  the  costly  pile  erected  by  Clarendon,  and  nick- 
named Dunkirk  House.  It  had  been  purchased  after  its 
founder's  downfall  by  the  Duke  of  Albemarle.  The  Clarendon 
Hotel  and  Albemarle  Street  still  preserve  the  memory  of  the 

He  who  then  rambled  to  what  is  now  the  gayest  and  most 
crowded  part  of  Regent  Street  found  himself  in  a  solitude,  and 
was  sometimes  so  fortunate  as  to  have  a  shot  at  a  woodcock.  J 
On  the  north  the  Oxford  road  ran  between  hedges.  Three  or 
four  hundred  yards  to  the  south  were  the  garden  walls  of  a  few 
great  houses  which  were  considered  as  quite  out  of  town.  On 
the  west  was  a  meadow  renowned  for  a  spring  from  which,  long 
afterwards,  Conduit  Street  was  named.  On  the  east  was  a  field 
not  to  be  passed  without  a  shudder  by  any  Londoner  of  that 
age.     There,  as  in  a  place  far  from  the  haunts  of  men,  had 

•  Evelyn's  Diary,  Oct.  lo.  1683,  Jan.  19.  168^. 

t  Stat.  I  Jac.  II.  c.  22.     Evelyn's  Diary,  Dec.  7.  1684. 

+  Old  General  Oglethorpe,  who  died  in  1785,  used  to  boast  that  he. had 
shot  birds  here  in  Anne's  reign.  See  Pennant's  London,  and  the  Gentle- 
man's Magazine  for  July,  1785. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  269 

been  dug,  twenty  years  before,  when  the  great  plague  was 
raging,  a  pit  into  which  the  dead  carts  had  nightly  shot  corpses 
by  scores.  It  was  popularly  believed  that  the  earth  was  deeply 
tainted  with  infection,  and  could  not  be  disturbed  without 
imminent  risk  to  human  life.  No  foundations  were  laid  there 
till  two  generations  had  passed  without  any  return  of  the 
pestilence,  and  till  the  ghastly  spot  had  long  been  surrounded 
by  buildings.* 

We  should  greatly  err  if  we  were  to  suppose  that  any  of  the 
streets  and  squares  then  bore  the  same  aspect  as  at  present. 
The  great  majority  of  the  houses,  indeed,  have,  since  that  time, 
been  wholly,  or  in  great  part,  rebuilt.  If  the  most  fashionable 
parts  of  the  capital  could  be  placed  before  us,  such  as  they  then 
were,  we  should  be  disgusted  by  their  squalid  appearance,  and 
poisoned  by  their  noisome  atmosphere.  In  Covent  Garden  a 
filthy  and  noisy  market  was  held  close  to  the  dwellings  of  the 
great.  Fruit  women  screamed,  carters  fought,  cabbage  stalks 
and  rotten  apples  accumulated  in  heaps  at  the  thresholds  of  the 
Countess  of  Berkshire  and  of  the  Bishop  of  Durham.! 

The  centre  of  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  was  an  open  space  where 
the  rabble  congregated  every  evening,  within  a  few  yards  of 
Cardigan  House  and  Winchester  House,  to  hear  mountebanks 
harangue,  to  see  bears  dance,  and  to  set  dogs  at  oxen.  Rubbish 
was  shot  in  every  part  of  the  area.  Horses  were  exercised 
there.  The  beggars  were  as  noisy  and  importunate  as  in  the 
worst  governed  cities  of  the  Continent.  A  Lincoln's  Inn 
mumper  was  a  proverb.  The  whole  fraternity  knew  the  arms 
and  liveries  of  every  charitably  disposed  grandee  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood, and,  as  soon  as  his  lordship's  coach  and  six  appeared, 
came  hopping  and  crawling  in  crowds  to  persecute  him.  These 
disorders  lasted,  in  spite  of  many  accidents,  and  of  some  legal 
proceedings,  till,  in  the  reign  of  George  the  Second,  Sir  Joseph 
Jekyll,  Master  of  the  Rolls,  was  knocked  down  and  nearly 
killed  in  the  middle  of  the  square.  Then  at  length  palisades 
were  set  up,  and  a  pleasant  garden  laid  out.| 

*  The  pest  field  will  be  seen  in  maps  of  London  as  late  as  the  end  ot 
George  the  First's  reign. 

t  See  a  very  curious  plan  of  Covent  Garden  made  about  1690,  and 
engraved  for  Smith's  History  of  Westminster.  See  also  Hogarth's  Morn- 
ing, painted  while  some  of  the  houses  in  the  Piazza  were  still  occupied  by 
people  of  fashion. 

+  London  Spy ;  Tom  Brown's  Comical  View  of  London  and  Westminster  ; 
Turner's  Propositions  for  the  employing  of  the  Poor,  1678  ;  Daily  Courant 
and  Daily  Journal  of  June,  7.  1733  ;  Case  of  Michael  v.  AUestree,  in  1676, 
2  Levinz.  p.  172.  Michael  had  been  run  over  by  two  horses  which  Alias- 
tree  was  breaking  in  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields.      The  declaration  set  forth  that 


Saint  James's  Square  was  a  receptacle  for  all  the  offal  and 
cinders,  for  all  the  dead  cats  and  dead  dogs  of  Westminster. 
At  one  time  a  cudgel  player  kept  the  ring  there.  At  another 
time  an  impudent  squatter  settled  himself  there,  and  built  a 
shed  for  rubbish  under  the  windows  of  the  gilded  saloons  in 
which  the  first  magnates  of  the  realm,  Norfolks,  Ormonds, 
Kents,  and  Pembrokes,  gave  banquets  and  balls.  It  was  not 
till  these  nuisances  had  lasted  through  a  whole  generation,  and 
till  much  had  been  written  about  them,  that  the  inhabitants 
applied  to  Parliament  for  permission  to  put  up  rails,  and  to 
plant  trees.* 

When  such  was  the  state  of  the  region  inhabited  by  the 
most  luxurious  portion  of  society,  we  may  easily  believe  that 
the  great  body  of  the  population  suffered  what  would  now  be 
considered  as  insupportable  grievances.  The  pavement  was 
detestable  ;  all  foreigners  cried  shame  upon  it.  The  drainage 
was  so  bad  that  in  rainy  weather  the  gutters  soon  became  torrents. 
Several  facetious  poets  have  commemorated  the  fury  with 
which  these  black  rivulets  roared  down  Snow  Hill  and  Ludgate 
Hill,  bearing  to  Fleet  Ditch  a  vast  tribute  of  animal  and  vege- 
table filth  from  the  stalls  of  butchers  and  greengrocers.  This 
flood  was  profusely  thrown  to  right  and  left  by  coaches  and 
carts.  To  keep  as  far  from  the  carriage  road  as  possible  was 
therefore  the  wish  of  every  pedestrian.  The  mild  and  timid 
gave  the  wall.  The  bold  and  athletic  took  it.  If  two  roisterers 
met,  they  cocked  their  hats  in  each  other's  faces,  and  pushed 
each  other  about  till  the  weaker  was  shoved  towards  the  kennel. 
If  he  was  a  mere  bully  he  sneaked  off,  muttering  that  he 
should  find  a  time.  If  he  was  pugnacious,  the  encounter 
probably  ended  in  a  duel  behind  Montague  House.! 

The  houses  were  not  numbered.  There  would  indeed  have 
been  little  advantage  in  numbering  them  ;  for  of  the  coachmen, 
chairmen  porters,  and  errand  boys  of  London,  a  very  small 
proportion  could  read.     It  was  necessary  to  use  marks  which 

the  defendant  "porta  deux  chivals  ungovernable  en  un  coach,  et  improvide, 
incaute,  et  absque  debita  consideratione  ineptitudinis  loci  la  eux  drive  pur 
eux  faire  tractable  et  apt  pur  un  coach,  quels  chivals,  pur  ceo  que,  per  leur 
ferocite,  ne  poient  estre  rule,  curre  sur  le  plaintiff  et  le  noie." 

*  Stat.  12  Geo.  I.  c.  25  ;  Commons' Journals,  Feb.  25.  March  2.  I72-|  ; 
London  Gardener,  1712  ;  Evening  Post,  March  23. 1731.  I  have  not  been 
able  to  find  this  number  of  the  Evening  Post  ;  I  therefore  quote  it  on  the 
faith  of  Mr.  Malcolm,  who  mentions  it  in  his  History  of  London. 

t  Lettres  sur  les  Anglois,  written  early  in  the  reign  of  William  the  Third ; 
Swift's  City  Shower  ;  Gay's  Trivia.  Johnson  used  to  relate  a  curious'  con- 
versation which  he  had  with  his  mother  about  giving  and  taking  the  wall. 

ENGLAND    IN     1 685  27  I 

the  most  ignorant  could  understand.  The  shops  were  therefore 
distinguished  by  painted  signs,  which  gave  a  gay  and  grotesque 
aspects  to  the  streets.  The  walk  from  Charing  Cross  to 
Whitechapel  lay  through  an  endless  succession  of  Saracens' 
Heads,  Royal  Oaks,  Blue  Bears,  and  Golden  Lambs,  which 
disappeared  when  they  were  no  longer  required  for  the  direction 
of  the  common  people. 

When  the  evening  closed  in,  the  difificulty  and  danger  of 
walking  about  London  became  serious  indeed.  The  garret 
windows  were  opened,  and  pails  were  emptied,  with  little  regard 
to  those  who  were  passing  below.  Falls,  bruises,  and  broken 
bones  were  of  constant  occurrence.  For,  till  the  last  year  of 
the  reign  of  Charles  the  Second,  most  of  the  streets  were  left 
in  profound  darkness.  Thieves  and  robbers  plied  their  trade 
with  impunity  :  yet  they  were  hardly  so  terrible  to  peaceable 
citizens  as  another  class  of  ruffians.  It  was  a  favourite  amuse- 
ment of  dissolute  young  gentlemen  to  swagger  by  night  about 
the  town,  breaking  windows,  upsetting  sedans,  beating  quiet 
men,  and  offering  rude  caresses  to  pretty  women.  Several 
dynasties  of  these  tyrants  had,  since  the  Restoration,  domineered 
over  the  streets.  The  Muns  and  Tityre  Tus  had  given  place 
to  the  Hectors,  and  the  Hectors  had  been  recently  succeeded 
by  the  Scourers.  At  a  later  period  arose  the  Nicker,  the 
Hawcubite,  and  the  yet  more  dreaded  name  of  Mohawk.*  The 
machinery  for  keeping  the  peace  was  utterly  contemptible. 
There  was  an  Act  of  Common  Council  which  provided  that 
more  than  a  thousand  watchmen  should  be  constantly  on  the 
alert  in  the  city,  from  sunset  to  sunrise,  and  that  every 
inhabitant  should  take  his  turn  of  duty.  But  this  Act  was 
negligently  executed.  Few  of  those  who  were  summoned  left 
their  homes  ;  and  those  few  generally  found  it  more  agreeable 
to  tipple  in  alehouses  than  to  pace  the  streets.! 

It  ought  to  be  noticed  that,  in  the  last  year  of  the  reign  of 

*  Oldham's  Imitation  of  the  3d  Satire  of  Juvenal,  1682;  Shadwell's 
Scourers,  1690.  Many  other  authorities  will  readily  occur  to  all  who  are 
acquainted  with  the  popular  literature  of  that  and  the  succeeding  generation. 
It  may  be  suspected  that  some  of  the  Tityre  Tus,  like  good  Cavaliers, 
broke  Milton's  windows  shortly  after  the  Restoration.  I  am  confident 
that  he  was  thinking  of  those  pests  of  London  when  he  dedicated  the 
noble  lines, — 

"  And  in  luxurious  cities,  when  the  noise 
Of  riot  ascends  above  the  loftiest  towers, 
And  injury  and  outraqe,  and  when  night 
Darkens  the  streets,  then  wander  forth  the  sons 
Of  Belial,  flown  with  insolence  and  wiue." 

t  Seymour's  London. 


Charles  the  Second,  began  a  great  change  in  the  police  of 
London,  a  change  which  has  perhaps  added  as  much  to  the 
happiness  of  the  body  of  the  people  as  revolutions  of  much 
greater  fame.  An  ingenious  projector,  named  Edward  Heming, 
obtained  letters  patent  conveying  to  him,  for  a  term  of  years, 
the  exclusive  right  of  lighting  up  London.  He  undertook,  for 
a  moderate  consideration,  to  place  a  light  before  every  tenth 
door,  on  moonless  nights,  from  Michaelmas  to  Lady  Day,  and 
from  six  to  twelve  of  the  clock.  Those  who  now  see  the 
capital  all  the  year  round,  from  dusk  to  dawn,  blazing  with 
a  splendour  compared  with  which  the  illuminations  for  La 
Hogue  and  Blenheim  would  have  looked  pale,  may  perhaps 
smile  to  think  of  Heming's  lanterns,  which  glimmered  feebly\ 
before  one  house  in  ten  during  a  small  part  of  one  night  in  * 
three.  But  such  was  not  the  feeling  of  his  contemporaries. 
His  scheme  was  enthusiastically  applauded,  and  furiously 
attacked.  The  friends  of  improvement  extolled  him  as  the 
greatest  of  all  the  benefactors  of  his  city.  What,  they  asked, 
were  the  boasted  inventions  of  Archimedes,  when  compared 
with  the  achievement  of  the  man  who  had  turned  the  nocturnal 
shades  into  noon  day  ?  In  spite  of  these  eloquent  eulogies  the 
cause  of  darkness  was  not  left  undefended.  There  were  fools 
in  that  age  who  opposed  the  introduction  of  what  was  called 
the  new  light  as  strenuously  as  fools  in  our  age  have  opposed 
the  introduction  of  vaccination  and  railroads,  as  strenuously  as 
the  fools  of  an  age  anterior  to  the  dawn  of  history  doubtless 
opposed  the  introduction  of  the  plough  and  of  alphabetical 
writing.  Many  years  after  the  date  of  Heming's  patent  there 
were  extensive  districts  in  which  no  lamp  was  seen.* 

We  may  easily  imagine  what,  in  such  times,  must  have  been 
the  state  of  the  quarters  of  London  which  were  peopled  by  the 
outcasts  of  society.  Among  those  quarters  one  had  attained  a 
scandalous  preeminence.  On  the  confines  of  the  City  and 
the  Temple  had  been  founded,  in  the  thirteenth  century,  a 
House  of  Carmelite  Friars,  distinguished  by  their  white  hoods. 
The  precinct  of  this  house  had,  before  the  Reformation,  been 
a  sanctuary  for  criminals,  and  still  retained  the  privilege  of 
protecting  debtors  from  arrest.  Insolvents  consequently  were 
to  be  found  in  every  dwelling,  from  cellar  to  garret.  Of  these 
a  large  proportion  were  knaves  and  libertines,  and  were  followed 
to  their  asylum  by  women  more  abandoned  than  themselves. 
The   civil   power   was   unable    to    keep    order   in   a   district 

*  Anglise  Metropolis,  1690,  Sect.  17.  entitled,  "  Of  the  new  lights." 
Seymour's  London. 

ENGLAND    IN     1 685  273 

swarming  with  such  inhabitants ;  and  thus  Whitefriars  became 
the  favourite  resort  of  all  who  wished  to  be  emancipated  from 
the  restraints  of  the  law.  Though  the  immunities  legally 
belonging  to  the  place  extended  only  to  cases  of  debt,  cheats, 
false  witnesses,  forgers,  and  highwaymen  found  refuge  there. 
For  amidst  a  rabble  so  desperate  no  peace  officer's  life  was  in 
safety.  At  the  cry  of  "  Rescue "  bullies  with  swords  and 
cudgels,  and  termagant  hags  with  spits  and  broomsticks, 
poured  forth  by  hundreds  ;  and  the  intruder  was  fortunate  if 
he  escaped  back  into  Fleet  Street,  hustled,  stripped,  and 
pumped  upon.  Even  the  warrant  of  the  Chief  Justice  of 
England  could  not  be  executed  without  the  help  of  a  company 
of  musketeers.  Such  relics  of  the  barbarism  of  the  darkest 
ages  were  to  be  found  within  a  short  walk  of  the  chambers 
where  Somers  was  studying  history  and  law,  of  the  chapel 
where  Tillotson  was  preaching,  of  the  coffee  house  where 
Dryden  was  passing  judgment  on  poems  and  plays,  and  of 
the  hall  where  the  Royal  Society  was  examining  the  astro- 
nomical system  of  Isaac  Newton.* 

Each  of  the  two  cities  which  made  up  the  capital  of 
England  had  its  own  centre  of  attraction.  In  the  metropolis 
of  commerce  the  point  of  convergence  was  the  Exchange  ; 
in  the  metropolis  of  fashion  the  Palace.  But  the  Palace  did 
not  retain  its  influence  so  long  as  the  Exchange.  The 
Revolution  completely  altered  the  relations  between  the  court 
and  the  higher  classes  of  society.  It  was  by  degrees  dis- 
covered that  the  King,  in  his  individual  capacity,  had  very 
Httle  to  give ;  that  coronets  and  garters,  bishoprics  and 
embassies,  lordships  of  the  Treasury  and  tellerships  of  the 
Exchequer,  nay,  even  charges  in  the  royal  stud  and  bed- 
chamber, were  really  bestowed,  not  by  him,  but  by  his 
advisers.  Every  ambitious  and  covetous  man  perceived  that 
he  would  consult  his  own  interest  far  better  by  acquiring  the 
dominion  of  a  Cornish  borough,  and  by  rendering  good 
service  to  the  ministry  during  a  critical  session,  than  by 
becoming  the  companion,  or  even  the  minion,  of  his  prince. 
It  was  therefore  in  the  antechambers,  not  of  George  the  First 
and  of  George  the  Second,  but  of  Walpole  and  of  Pelham, 
that  the  daily  crowd  of  courtiers  was  to  be  found.  It  is  also  to 
be  remarked  that  the  same  revolution  which  made  it  impossible 
that  our  Kings  should  use  the  patronage  of  the  state,  merely 
for  the  purpose  of  gratifying  their  personal  predilections,  gave 

*  Stowe's  Survey  of  London  ;  Shadwell's  Squire  of  Alsatia ;  Ward's 
London  Spy  ;  Stat.  8  &  9  Gul.  III.  cap.  27. 

2  74  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

US  several  Kings  unfitted  by  their  education  and  habits  to  be 
gracious  and  atfable  hosts.  They  had  been  born  and  bred  on 
the  Continent.  They  never  felt  themselves  at  home  in  our 
island.  If  they  spoke  our  language,  they  spoke  it  inelegantly 
and  with  effort.  Our  national  character  they  never  fully 
understood.  Our  national  manners  they  hardly  attempted  to 
acquire.  The  most  important  part  of  their  duty  they  per- 
formed better  than  any  ruler  who  had  preceded  them  :  for  they 
governed  strictly  according  to  law  :  but  they  could  not  be 
the  first  gentlemen  of  the  realm,  the  heads  of  polite  society. 
If  ever  they  unbent,  it  was  in  a  very  small  circle  where  hardly 
an  English  face  was  to  be  seen  ;  and  they  were  never  so  happy 
as  when  they  could  escape  for  a  summer  to  their  native  land. 
They  had  indeed  their  days  of  reception  for  our  nobility  and 
gentry;  but  the  reception  was  mere  matter  of  form,  and 
became  at  last  as  solemn  a  ceremony  as  a  funeral. 

Not  such  was  the  court  of  Charles  the  Second.  Whitehall, 
when  he  dwelt  there,  was  the  focus  of  political  intrigue  and  ot 
fashionable  gaiety.  Half  the  jobbing  and  half  the  flirting  of 
the  metropolis  went  on  under  his  roof.  Whoever  could  make 
himself  agreeable  to  the  prince,  or  could  secure  the  good  ofifices 
of  the  mistress,  might  hope  to  rise  in  the  world  without  render- 
ing any  service  to  the  government,  without  being  even  known 
by  sight  to  any  minister  of  state.  This  courtier  got  a  frigate, 
and  that  a  company ;  a  third  the  pardon  of  a  rich  offender ;  a 
fourth,  a  lease  of  crown  land  on  easy  terms.  If  the  King 
notified  his  pleasure  that  a  briefless  lawyer  should  be  made 
a  judge,  or  that  a  libertine  baronet  should  be  made  a  peer, 
the  gravest  counsellors,  after  a  little  murmuring,  submitted.* 
Interest,  therefore,  drew  a  constant  press  of  suitors  to  the  gates 
of  the  palace ;  and  those  gates  always  stood  wide.  The  King 
kept  open  house  every  day,  and  all  day  long,  for  the  good 
society  of  London,  the  extreme  Whigs  only  excepted.  Hardly 
any  gentleman  had  any  difficulty  in  making  his  way  to  the  royal 
presence.  The  levee  was  exactly  what  the  word  imports. 
Some  men  of  quality  came  every  morning  to  stand  round  their 
master,  to  chat  with  him  while  his  wig  was  combed  and  his 
cravat  tied,  and  to  accompany  him  in  his  early  walk  through 
the  Park.  All  persons  who  had  been  properly  introduced 
might,  without  any  special  invitation,  go  to  see  him  dine,  sup, 
dance,  and  play  at  hazard,   and  might  have  the  pleasure  of 

*  See  Sir  Roger  North's  account  of  the  way  in  which  Wright  was  made 
a  judge,  and  Clarendon's  account  of  the  way  in  which  Sir  George  Savile 
was  made  a  peer. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  27^ 

hearing  him  tell  stories,  which  indeed  he  told  remarkably  well, 
about  his  flight  from  Worcester,  and  about  the  misery  which  he 
had  endured  when  he  was  a  state  prisoner  in  the  hands  of  the 
canting  meddUng  preachers  of  Scotland.  Bystanders  whom 
His  Majesty  recognised  often  came  in  for  a  courteous  word. 
This  proved  a  far  more  successful  kingcraft  than  any  that  his 
father  or  grandfather  had  practised.  It  was  not  easy  for  the 
most  austere  republican  of  the  school  of  Marvel  to  resist  the 
fascination  of  so  much  good  humour  and  affability  :  and  many 
a  veteran  Cavalier,  in  whose  heart  the  remembrance  of 
unrequited  sacrifices  and  services  had  been  festering  during 
twenty  years,  was  compensated  in  one  moment  for  wounds  and 
sequestrations  by  his  sovereign's  kind  nod,  and  "  God  bless  you, 
my  old  friend  1 " 

Whitehall  naturally  became  the  chief  staple  of  news. 
Whenever  there  was  a  rumour  that  anything  important  had 
happened  or  was  about  to  happen,  people  hastened  thither  to 
obtain  intelligence  from  the  fountain  head.  The  galleries 
presented  the  appearance  of  a  modern  club  room  at  an  anxious 
time.  They  were  full  of  people  inquiring  whether  the  Dutch 
mail  was  in,  what  tidings  the  express  from  France  had  brought, 
whether  John  Sobiesky  had  beaten  the  Turks,  whether  the 
Doge  of  Genoa  was  really  at  Paris.  These  were  matters  about 
which  it  was  safe  to  talk  aloud.  But  there  were  subjects 
concerning  which  information  was  asked  and  given  in  whispers. 
Had  Halifax  got  the  better  of  Rochester?  Was  there  to 
be  a  Parliament?  Was  the  Duke  of  York  really  going  to 
Scotland?  Had  Monmouth  really  been  summoned  from  the 
Hague  ?  Men  tried  to  read  the  countenance  of  every  minister 
as  he  went  through  the  throng  to  and  from  the  royal  closet. 
All  sorts  of  auguries  were  drawn  from  the  tone  in  which  His 
Majesty  spoke  to  the  Lord  President,  or  from  the  laugh  with 
which  His  Majesty  honoured  a  jest  of  the  Lord  Privy  Seal ; 
and  in  a  few  hours  the  hopes  and  fears  inspired  by  such  slight 
indications  had  spread  to  all  the  coffee  houses  from  St.  James's 
to  the  Tower.* 

The  coffee  house  must  not  be  dismissed  with  a  cursory 
mention.  It  might  indeed  at  that  time  have  been  not  im- 
properly  called  a   most   important   political   institution.     No 

*  The  sources  from  which  I  have  drawn  my  information  about  the  state 
of  the  court  are  too  numerous  to  recapitulate.  Among  them  are  the 
Despatches  of  Barillon,  Van  Citters,  Ronquillo,  and  Adda,  the  Travels  of 
the  Grand  Duke  Cosmo,  the  Diaries  of  Pepys,  Evelyn,  and  Teonge,  and 
the  Memoirs  of  Grammont  and  Reresby. 


Parliament  had  sat  for  years.  The  municipal  council  of  the 
City  had  ceased  to  speak  the  sense  of  the  citizens.  Public 
meetings,  harangues,  resolutions,  and  the  rest  of  the  modern 
machinery  of  agitation  had  not  yet  come  into  fashion. 
Nothing  resembling  the  modern  newspaper  existed.  In  such 
circumstances  the  coffee  houses  were  the  chief  organs  through 
which  the  public  opinion  of  the  metropolis  vented  itself. 

The  first  of  these  establishments  had  been  set  up,  in  the 
time  of  the  Commonwealth,  by  a  Turkey  merchant,  who  had 
acquired  among  the  Mahometans  a  taste  for  their  favourite 
beverage.  The  convenience  of  being  able  to  make  appoint- 
ments in  any  part  of  the  town,  and  of  being  able  to  pass 
evenings  socially  at  a  very  small  charge,  was  so  great  that  the 
fashion  spread  fast.  Every  man  of  the  upper  or  middle  class 
went  daily  to  his  coffee  house  to  learn  the  news  and  to  discuss 
it.  Every  coffee  house  had  one  or  more  orators  to  whose 
eloquence  the  crowd  listened  with  admiration,  and  who  soon 
became,  what  the  journalists  of  our  own  time  have  been  called, 
a  fourth  Estate  of  the  realm.  The  court  had  long  seen  with 
uneasiness  the  growth  of  this  new  power  in  the  state.  An 
attempt  had  been  made,  during  Danby's  administration,  to 
close  the  coffee  houses.  But  men  of  all  parties  missed  their 
usual  places  of  resort  so  much  that  there  was  an  universal 
outcry.  The  government  did  not  venture,  in  opposition  to 
a  feeling  so  strong  and  general,  to  enforce  a  regulation  of  which 
the  legality  might  well  be  questioned.  Since  that  time  ten 
years  had  elapsed,  and  during  those  years  the  number  and 
influence  of  the  coffee  houses  had  been  constantly  increasing. 
Foreigners  remarked  that  the  coffee  house  was  that  which 
especially  distinguished  London  from  all  other  cities ;  that  the 
coffee  house  was  the  Londoner's  home,  and  that  those  who 
wished  to  find  a  gentleman  commonly  asked,  not  whether  he 
lived  in  Fleet  Street  or  Chancery  Lane,  but  whether  he 
frequented  the  Grecian  or  the  Rainbow.  Nobody  was 
excluded  from  these  places  who  laid  down  his  penny  at  the 
bar.  Yet  every  rank  and  profession,  and  every  shade  of 
religious  and  pohtical  opinion,  had  its  own  head  quarters. 
There  were  houses  near  St.  James's  Park  where  fops  con- 
gregated, their  heads  and  shoulders  covered  with  black  or 
flaxen  wigs,  not  less  ample  than  those  which  are  now  worn  by 
the  Chancellor  and  by  the  Speaker  of  the  House  of  Commons. 
The  wig  came  from  Paris  ;  and  so  did  the  rest  of  the  fine 
gentleman's  ornaments,  his  embroidered  coat,  his  fringed 
gloves,   and   the   tassel   which   upheld  his   pantaloons.     The 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  277 

convdi-sation  was  in  that  dialect  which,  long  after  it  had  ceased 
to  be  spoken  in  fashionable  circles,  continued,  in  the  mouth 
of  Lord  Foppington,  to  excite  the  mirth  of  theatres.*  The 
atmosphere  was  like  that  of  a  perfumer's  shop.  Tobacco  in 
any  other  form  than  that  of  richly  scented  snuff  was  held  in 
abomination.  If  any  clown,  ignorant  of  the  usages  of  the 
house,  called  for  a  pipe,  the  sneers  of  the  whole  assembly  and 
the  short  answers  of  the  waiters  soon  convinced  him  that  he 
had  better  go  somewhere  else.  Nor,  indeed,  would  he  have 
had  far  to  go.  For,  in  general,  the  coffee  rooms  reeked  with 
tobacco  like  a  guardroom  ;  and  strangers  sometimes  expressed 
their  surprise  that  so  many  people  should  leave  their  own 
firesides  to  sit  in  the  midst  of  eternal  fog  and  stench. 
Nowhere  was  the  smoking  more  constant  than  at  Will's.  That 
celebrated  house,  situated  between  Covent  Garden  and  Bow 
Street,  was  sacred  to  polite  letters.  There  the  talk  was  about 
poetical  justice  and  the  unities  of  place  and  time.  There  was 
a  faction  for  Perrault  and  the  moderns,  a  faction  for  Boileau 
and  the  ancients.  One  group  debated  whether  Paradise  Lost 
ought  not  to  have  been  in  rhyme.  To  another  an  envious 
poetaster  demonstrated  that  Venice  Preserved  ought  to  have 
been  hooted  from  the  stage.  Under  no  roof  was  a  greater 
variety  of  figures  to  be  seen,  Earls  in  stars  and  garters,  clergy- 
men in  cassocks  and  bands,  pert  Templars,  sheepish  lads  from 
the  Universities,  translators  and  index  makers  in  ragged  coats 
of  frieze.  The  great  press  was  to  get  near  the  chair  where 
John  Dryden  sate.  In  winter  that  chair  was  always  in  the 
warmest  nook  by  the  fire  ;  in  summer  it  stood  in  the  balcony. 
To  bow  to  him,  and  to  hear  his  opinion  of  Racine's  last 
tragedy  or  of  Bossu's  treatise  on  epic  poetry,  was  thought  a 
privilege.  A  pinch  from  his  snuff  box  was  an  honour  sufficient 
to  turn  the  head  of  a  young  enthusiast.  There  were  coffee 
houses  where  the  first  medical  men  might  be  consulted. 
Doctor  John  Radcliffe,  who,  in  the  year  1685,  rose  to  the 
largest  practice  in  London,  came  daily,  at  the  hour  when  the 
Exchange  was  full,  from  his  house  in  Bow  Street,  then  a 
fashionable  part  of  the  capital,  to  Garraway's,  and  was  to  be 
found,  surrounded  by  surgeons  and  apothecaries,  at  a  particular 
table.     There  were  Puritan  coffee  houses  where  no  oath  was 

*  The  chief  peculiarity  of  this  dialect  was  that,  in  a  large  class  of  words, 
the  O  was  pronounced  like  A.  Thus  stork  was  pronounced  stark.  See 
Vanbrugh's  Relapse.  Lord  Sunderland  was  a  great  master  of  this  court 
tune,  as  Roger  North  calls  it ;  and  Titus  Oates  affected  it  in  the  hope  of 
passing  for  a  fine  gentleman.     Examen,  77.  254. 


heard,  and  where  lankhaired  men  discussed  election  and 
reprobation  through  their  noses ;  Jew  coffee  houses  where 
dark  eyed  money  changers  from  Venice  and  from  Amsterdam 
greeted  each  other ;  and  Popish  coffee  houses  where,  as  good 
Protestants  believed,  Jesuits  planned,  over  their  cups,  another 
great  fire,  and  cast  silver  bullets  to  shoot  the  King.* 

These  gregarious  habits  had  no  small  share  in  forming  the 
character  of  the  Londoner  of  that  age.  He  was,  indeed,  a 
different  being  from  the  rustic  Englishman.  There  was  not 
then  the  intercourse  which  now  exists  between  the  two  classes. 
Only  very  great  men  were  in  the  habit  of  dividing  the  year 
between  town  and  country.  Few  esquires  came  to  the  capital 
thrice  in  their  lives.  Nor  was  it  yet  the  practice  of  all  citizens 
in  easy  circumstances  to  breathe  the  fresh  air  of  the  fields  and 
woods  during  some  weeks  of  every  summer.  A  cockney,  in  a 
rural  village,  was  stared  at  as  much  as  if  he  had  intruded  into 
a  Kraal  of  Hottentots.  On  the  other  hand,  when  the  lord  of 
a  Lincolnshire  or  Shropshire  manor  appeared  in  Fleet  Street, 
he  was  as  easily  distinguished  from  the  resident  population  as 
a  Turk  or  a  Lascar.  His  dress,  his  gait,  his  accent,  the  manner 
in  which  he  stared  at  the  shops,  stumbled  into  the  gutters,  ran 
against  the  porters,  and  stood  under  the  waterspouts,  marked 
him  out  as  an  excellent  subject  for  the  operations  of  swindlers 
and  banterers.  Bullies  jostled  him  into  the  kennel.  Hackney 
coachmen  splashed  him  from  head  to  foot.  Thieves  explored 
with  perfect  security  the  huge  pockets  of  his  horseman's  coat, 
while  he  stood  entranced  by  the  splendour  of  the  Lord  Mayor's 
show.  Moneydroppers,  sore  from  the  cart's  tail,  introduced 
themselves  to  him,  and  appeared  to  him  the  most  honest 
friendly  gentlemen  that  he  had  ever  seen.  Painted  women, 
the  refuse  of  Lewkner  Lane  and  Whetstone  Park,  passed  them- 
selves on  him  for  countesses  and  maids  of  honour.  If  he 
asked  his  way  to  Saint  James's,  his  informants  sent  him  to 
Mile  End.  If  he  went  into  a  shop,  he  was  instantly  discerned 
to  be  a  fit  purchaser  of  everything  that  nobody  else  would  buy, 
of  secondhand  embroidery,  copper  rings,  and  watches  that 
would  not  go.      If  he  rambled   into   any  fashionable  coffee 

*  Lettres  sur  les  Anglois  ;  Tom  Brown's  Tour ;  Ward's  London  Spy ; 
The  Character  of  a  Coffee  House,  1673  ;  Rules  and  Orders  of  the  Coffee 
House,  1674  ;  Coffee  Houses  vindicated,  1675  ;  A  Satyr  against  Coffee  ; 
North's  Examen,  138.  ;  Life  of  Guildford,  152.  ;  Life  of  Sir  Dudley 
North,  149.  ;  Life  of  Dr.  Radcliffe,  published  by  Curll  in  1715.  The 
liveliest  description  of  Will's  is  in  the  City  and  Country  Mouse,  There 
is  a  remarkable  passage  about  the  influence  of  the  coffee  house  orators  in 
Halstead's  Succinct  Genealogies,  printed  in  1685. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  279 

house,  he  became  a  mark  for  the  insolent  derision  of  fops  and 
the  grave  waggery  of  Templars.  Enraged  and  mortified,  he 
soon  returned  to  his  mansion,  and  there,  in  the  homage  of  his 
tenants,  and  the  conversation  of  his  boon  companions,  found 
consolation  for  the  vexations  and  humiliations  which  he  had 
undergone.  There  he  once  more  felt  himself  a  great  man ; 
and  he  saw  nothing  above  him  except  when  at  the  assizes  he 
took  his  seat  on  the  bench  near  the  Judge,  or  when  at  the 
muster  of  the  militia  he  saluted  the  Lord  Lieutenant. 

The  chief  cause  which  made  the  fusion  of  the  different 
elements  of  society  so  imperfect  was  the  extreme  difificulty 
which  our  ancestors  found  in  passing  from  place  to  place.  Of 
all  inventions,  the  alphabet  and  the  printing  press  alone 
excepted,  those  inventions  which  abridge  distance  have  done 
most  for  the  civilisation  of  our  species.  Every  improvement 
of  the  means  of  locomotion  benefits  mankind  morally  and 
intellectually  as  well  as  materially,  and  not  only  facilitates  the 
interchange  of  the  various  productions  of  nature  and  art,  but 
tends  to  remove  national  and  provincial  antipathies,  and  to 
bind  together  all  the  branches  of  the  great  human  family.  In 
the  seventeenth  century  the  inhabitants  of  London  were,  for 
almost  every  practical  purpose,  farther  from  Reading  than 
they  now  are  from  Edinburgh,  and  farther  from  Edinburgh 
than  they  now  are  from  Vienna. 

The  subjects  of  Charles  the  Second  were  not,  it  is  true, 
quite  unacquainted  with  that  principle  which  has,  in  our  own 
time,  produced  an  unprecedented  revolution  in  human  affairs, 
which  has  enabled  navies  to  advance  in  the  face  of  wind  and 
tide,  and  battalions,  attended  by  all  their  baggage  and  artillery, 
to  traverse  kingdoms  at  a  pace  equal  to  that  of  the  fleetest 
race  horse.  The  Marquess  of  Worcester  had  recently  observed 
the  expansive  power  of  moisture  rarefied  by  heat.  After  many 
experiments  he  had  succeeded  in  constructing  a  rude  steam 
engine,  which  he  called  a  fire  water  work,  and  which  he  pro- 
nounced to  be  an  admirable  and  most  forcible  instrument  of 
propulsion.*  But  the  Marquess  was  suspected  to  be  a  mad- 
man, and  known  to  be  a  Papist.  His  inventions,  therefore, 
found  no  favourable  reception.  His  fire  water  work  might, 
perhaps,  furnish  matter  for  conversation  at  a  meeting  of  the 
Royal  Society,  but  was  not  applied  to  any  practical  purpose. 
There  were  no  railways,  except  a  few  made  of  timber,  from  the 
mouths  of  the  Northumbrian  coal  pits  to  the  banks  of  the 

*  Century  of  Inventions,  1663.     No.  68. 

2  80  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

Tyne.*  There  was  very  little  internal  communication  by 
water.  A  few  attempts  had  been  made  to  deepen  and  embank 
the  natural  streams,  but  with  slender  success.  Hardly  a  single 
navigable  canal  had  been  even  projected.  The  English  of 
that  day  were  in  the  habit  of  talking  with  mingled  admiration 
and  despair  of  the  immense  trench  by  which  Lewis  the 
Fourteenth  had  made  a  junction  between  the  Atlantic  and  the 
Mediterranean.  They  little  thought  that  their  country  would, 
in  the  course  of  a  few  generations,  be  intersected,  at  the  cost 
of  private  adventurers,  by  artificial  rivers  making  up  more  than 
four  times  the  length  of  the  Thames,  the  Severn,  and  the  Trent 

It  was  by  the  highways  that  both  travellers  and  goods 
generally  passed  from  place  to  place.  And  those  highways 
appear  to  have  been  far  worse  than  might  have  been  expected 
from  the  degree  of  wealth  and  civilisation  which  the  nation 
had  even  then  attained.  On  the  best  lines  of  communication 
the  ruts  were  deep,  the  descents  precipitous,  and  the  way  often 
such  as  it  was  hardly  possible  to  distinguish,  in  the  dusk,  from 
the  uninclosed  heath  and  fen  which  lay  on  both  sides.  Ralph 
Thoresby,  the  antiquary,  was  in  danger  of  losing  his  way  on  the 
great  North  road,  between  Barnby  Moor  and  Tuxford,  and 
actually  lost  his  way  between  Doncaster  and  York.f  Pepys 
and  his  wife,  travelling  in  their  own  coach,  lost  their  way 
between  Newbury  and  Reading,  In  the  course  of  the  same 
tour  they  lost  their  way  near  Salisbury,  and  were  in  danger  of 
having  to  pass  the  night  on  the  plain.  |  It  was  only  in  fine 
weather  that  the  whole  breadth  of  the  road  was  available  for 
wheeled  vehicles.  Often  the  mud  lay  deep  on  the  right  and 
the  left ;  and  only  a  narrow  track  of  firm  ground  rose  above  the 
quagmire.  §  At  such  times  obstructions  and  quarrels  were 
frequent,  and  the  path  was  sometimes  blocked  up  during  a  long 
time  by  carriers,  neither  of  whom  would  break  the  way.  It 
happened,  almost  every  day,  that  coaches  stuck  fast,  until  a 
team  of  cattle  could  be  procured  from  some  neighbouring 
farm,  to  tug  them  out  of  the  slough.  But  in  bad  seasons  the 
traveller  had  to  encounter  inconveniences  still  more  serious. 
Thoresby,  who  was  in  the  habit  of  travelling  between  Leeds 
and  the  capital,  has  recorded,  in  his  Diary,  such  a  series  of 
perils  and  disasters  as  might  suffice  for  a  journey  to  the  Frozen 

*  North's  Life  of  Guildford,  136. 

t  Thoresby's  Diary,  Oct.  21,  1680,  Aug.  3.  1712. 

J  Pepys's  Diary,  June  12.  and  16.  1668. 

§  Ibid.  Feb.  28.  1660. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  28  I 

Ocean  or  to  the  Desert  of  Sahara.  On  one  occasion  he 
learned  that  the  floods  were  out  between  Ware  and  London, 
that  passengers  had  to  swim  for  their  lives,  and  that  a  higgler 
had  perished  in  the  attempt  to  cross.  In  consequence  of  these 
tidings  he  turned  out  of  the  high  road,  and  was  conducted 
across  some  meadows,  where  it  was  necessary  for  him  to  ride 
to  the  saddle  skirts  in  water.*  In  the  course  of  another 
journey  he  narrowly  escaped  being  swept  away  by  an  inun- 
dation of  the  Trent.  He  was  afterwards  detained  at  Stamford 
four  days,  on  account  of  the  state  of  the  roads,  and  then 
ventured  to  proceed  only  because  fourteen  members  of  the 
House  of  Commons,  who  were  going  up  in  a  body  to  Parlia- 
ment, with  guides  and  numerous  attendants,  took  him  into 
their  company.f  On  the  roads  of  Derbyshire  travellers  were 
in  constant  fear  for  their  necks,  and  were  frequently  compelled 
to  alight  and  lead  their  beasts.  J  The  great  route  through 
Wales  to  Holyhead  was  in  such  a  state  that,  in  1685,  a  viceroy, 
going  to  Ireland,  was  five  hours  in  travelling  fourteen  miles, 
from  Saint  Asaph  to  Conway.  Between  Conway  and  Beau- 
maris he  was  forced  to  walk  great  part  of  the  way ;  and  his 
lady  was  carried  in  a  litter.  His  coach  was,  with  great  diffi- 
culty, and  by  the  help  of  many  hands,  brought  after  him  entire. 
In  general,  carriages  were  taken  to  pieces  at  Conway,  and 
borne,  on  the  shoulders  of  stout  Welsh  peasants,  to  the  Menai 
Straits. §  In  some  parts  of  Kent  and  Sussex  none  but  the 
strongest  horses  could,  in  winter,  get  through  the  bog,  in 
which,  at  every  step,  they  sank  deep.  The  markets  were  often 
inaccessible  during  several  months.  It  is  said  that  the  fruits 
of  the  earth  were  sometimes  suffered  to  rot  in  one  place,  while 
in  another  place,  distant  only  a  few  miles,  the  supply  fell  far 
short  of  the  demand.  The  wheeled  carriages  were,  in  this 
district,  generally  pulled  by  oxen.  H  When  Prince  George  of 
Denmark  visited  the  stately  mansion  of  Petworth  in  wet 
weather,  he  was  six  hours  in  going  nine  miles ;  and  it  was 
necessary  that  a  body  of  sturdy  hinds  should  be  on  each  side 
of  his  coach,  in  order  to  prop  it.  Of  the  carriages  which  con- 
veyed his  retinue  several  were  upset  and  injured.     A  letter 

*  Thoresby's  Diary,  May  17.  1695.  t  Ibid.  Dec.  27.  170S. 

J  Tour  in  Derbyshire,  by  J.  Browne,  son  of  Sir  Thomas  Browne,  1662. 
Cotton's  Angler,  1676. 

§  Correspondence  of  Henry  Earl  of  Clarendon,  Dec.  30.  1685,  Jan.  i. 

II  Postlethwaite's  Diet.,  Roads.  History  of  Hawkhurst,  in  the  Bibli 
otheca  Topographica  Britaunica. 

2  82  HISTORY    OF    ENGLAND 

from  one  of  his  gentlemen  in  waiting  has  been  preserved,  in 
which  the  unfortunate  courtier  complains  that,  during  fourteen 
hours,  he  never  once  alighted,  except  when  his  coach  was 
overturned  or  stuck  fast  in  the  mud.* 

One  chief  cause  of  the  badness  of  the  roads  seems  to  have 
been  the  defective  state  of  the  law.  Every  parish  was  bound 
to  repair  the  highways  which  passed  through  it.  The  peasantry 
were  forced  to  give  their  gratuitous  labour  six  days  in  the  year. 
If  this  was  not  sufficient,  hired  labour  was  employed,  and  the 
expense  was  met  by  a  parochial  rate.  That  a  route  connecting 
two  great  towns,  which  have  a  large  and  thriving  trade  with 
each  other,  should  be  maintained  at  the  cost  of  the  rural 
population  scattered  between  them  is  obviously  unjust ;  and 
this  injustice  was  peculiarly  glaring  in  the  case  of  the  great 
North  road,  which  traversed  very  poor  and  thinly  inhabited 
districts,  and  joined  very  rich  and  populous  districts.  Indeed 
it  was  not  in  the  power  of  the  parishes  of  Huntingdonshire  to 
mend  a  highway  worn  by  the  constant  traffic  between  the  West 
Riding  of  Yorkshire  and  London.  Soon  after  the  Restoration 
this  grievance  attracted  the  notice  of  Parliament ;  and  an  act, 
the  first  of  our  many  turnpike  acts,  was  passed,  imposing  a 
small  toll  on  travellers  and  goods,  for  the  purpose  of  keeping 
some  parts  of  this  important  line  of  communication  in  good 
repair.!  This  innovation,  however,  excited  many  murmurs; 
and  the  other  great  avenues  to  the  capital  were  long  left  under 
the  old  system.  A  change  was  at  length  effected,  but  not 
without  much  difficulty.  For  unjust  and  absurd  taxation  to 
which  men  are  accustomed  is  often  borne  far  more  willingly 
than  the  most  reasonable  impost  which  is  new.  It  was  not 
till  many  toll  bars  had  been  violently  pulled  down,  till  the 
troops  had  in  many  districts  been  forced  to  act  against  the 
people,  and  till  much  blood  had  been  shed,  that  a  good  system 
was  introduced.  J  By  slow  degrees  reason  triumphed  over 
prejudice ;  and  our  island  is  now  crossed  in  every  direction  by 
near  thirty  thousand  miles  of  turnpike  road. 

On  the  best  highways  heavy  articles  were,  in  the  time  of 
Charles  the  Second,  generally  conveyed  from  place  to  place  by 
stage  waggons.  In  the  straw  of  these  vehicles  nestled  a  crowd 
of  passengers,  who  could  not  afford  to  travel  by  coach  or  on 

*  Annals  of  Queen  Anne,  1703.     Appendix,  No.  3. 

t   15  Car.  II.  c.  I. 

X  The  evils  of  the  old  system  are  strikingly  set  forth  in  many  petitions 
which  appear  in  the  Commons' Journal  of  172I.  How  fierce  an  opposition 
was  offered  to  the  new  system  may  be  learned  from  the  Gentleman's 
Magazine  of  1749. 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  283 

horseback,  and  who  were  prevented  by  infirmity,  or  by  the 
weight  of  their  luggage,  from  going  on  foot.  The  expense  of 
transmitting  heavy  goods  in  this  way  was  enormous.  From 
London  to  Birmingham  the  charge  was  seven  pounds  a  ton  ; 
from  London  to  Exeter  twelve  pounds  a  ton.*  This  was  about 
fifteen  pence  a  ton  for  every  mile,  more  by  a  third  than  was 
afterwards  charged  on  turnpike  roads,  and  fifteen  times  what  is 
now  demanded  by  railway  companies.  The  cost  of  conveyance 
amounted  to  a  prohibitory  tax  on  many  useful  articles.  Coal 
in  particular  was  never  seen  except  in  the  districts  where  it  was 
produced,  or  in  the  districts  to  which  it  could  be  carried  by  sea, 
and  was  indeed  always  known  in  the  South  of  England  by  the 
name  of  sea  coal. 

On  byroads,  and  generally  throughout  the  country  north  of 
York  and  west  of  Exeter,  goods  were  carried  by  long  trains  of 
packhorses.  These  strong  and  patient  beasts,  the  breed  of 
which  is  now  extinct,  were  attended  by  a  class  of  men  who  seem 
to  have  borne  much  resemblance  to  the  Spanish  muleteers. 
A  traveller  of  humble  condition  often  found  it  convenient  to 
perform  a  journey  mounted  on  a  packsaddle  between  two 
baskets,  under  the  care  of  these  hardy  guides.  The  expense 
of  this  mode  of  conveyance  was  small.  But  the  caravan 
moved  at  a  foot's  pace ;  and  in  winter  the  cold  was  often 
insupportable,  t 

The  rich  commonly  travelled  in  their  own  carriages,  with  at 
least  four  horses.  Cotton,  the  facetious  poet,  attempted  to  go 
from  London  to  the  Peak  with  a  single  pair,  but  found  at  Saint 
Albans  that  the  journey  would  be  insupportably  tedious,  and 
altered  his  plan.  J  A  coach  and  six  is  in  our  time  never  seen, 
except  as  part  of  some  pageant.  The  frequent  mention  there- 
fore of  such  equipages  in  old  books  is  likely  to  mislead  us.  We 
attribute  to  magnificence  what  was  really  the  effect  of  a  very 
disagreeable  necessity.  People,  in  the  time  of  Charles  the 
Second,  travelled  with  six  horses,  because  with  a  smaller 
number  there  was  great  danger  of  sticking  fast  in  the  mire. 
Nor  were  even  six  horses  always  sufficient.  Vanbrugh,  in  the 
succeeding  generation,  described  with  great  humour  the  way  in 
which  a  country  gentleman,  newly  chosen  a  member  of 
Parliament,  went  up  to  London.  On  that  occasion  all  the 
exertions  of  six  beasts,  two  of  which  had  been  taken  from  the 

*  Postlethwaite's  Diet.,  Roads. 

t  Loiciis  and  Elmete.     Marshall's  Rural  Economy  of  England.     In  1739 
Roderic  Random  came  from  Scotland  to  Newcastle  on  a  packhorse. 
Z  Cotton's  Epistle  to  J.  Bradshaw, 


plough,  could  not  save  the  family  coach  from  being  imbedded 
in  a  quagmire. 

Public  carriages  had  recently  been  much  improved.  During 
the  years  which  immediately  followed  the  Restoration,  a 
diligence  ran  between  London  and  Oxford  in  two  days.  The 
passengers  slept  at  Beaconsfield.  At  length,  in  the  spring  of 
1669,  a  great  and  daring  innovation  was  attempted.  It  was 
announced  that  a  vehicle,  described  as  the  Flying  Coach, 
would  perform  the  whole  journey  between  sunrise  and  sunset. 
This  spirited  undertaking  was  solemnly  considered  and 
sanctioned  by  the  Heads  of  the  University,  and  appears  to 
have  excited  the  same  sort  of  interest  which  is  excited  in  our 
own  time  by  the  opening  of  a  new  railway.  The  Vicechancellor, 
by  a  notice  affixed  in  all  public  places,  prescribed  the  hour 
and  place  of  departure.  The  success  of  the  experiment  was 
complete.  At  six  in  the  moniing  the  carriage  began  to  move 
from  before  the  ancient  front  of  All  Souls  College  :  and  at  seven 
in  the  evening  the  adventurous  gentlemen  who  had  run  the 
first  risk  were  safely  deposited  at  their  inn  in  London.*  The 
emulation  of  the  sister  University  was  moved ;  and  soon  a 
diligence  was  set  up  which  in  one  day  carried  passengers  from 
Cambridge  to  the  capital.  At  the  close  of  the  reign  of  Charles 
the  Second,  flying  carriages  ran  thrice  a  week  from  London  to 
the  chief  towns.  But  no  stage  coach,  indeed  no  stage  waggon, 
appears  to  have  proceeded  further  north  than  York,  or  further 
west  than  Exeter.  The  ordinary  day's  journey  of  a  flying  coach 
was  about  fifty  miles  in  the  summer ;  but  in  winter,  when  the 
ways  were  bad  and  the  nights  long,  little  more  than  thirty.  The 
Chester  coach,  the  York  coach,  and  the  Exeter  coach  generally 
reached  London  in  four  days  during  the  fine  season,  but  at 
Christmas  not  till  the  sixth  day.  The  passengers,  six  in 
number,  were  all  seated  in  the  carriage.  For  accidents  were  so 
frequent  that  it  would  have  been  most  perilous  to  mount  the 
roof.  The  ordinary  fare  was  about  twopence  halfpenny  a  mile 
in  summer,  and  somewhat  more  in  winter.! 

This  mode  of  travelling,  which  by  Englishmen  of  the  present 
day  would  be  regarded  as  insufferably  slow,  seemed  to  our 
ancestors  wonderfully  and  indeed  alarmingly  rapid.  In  a  work 
published  a  few  months  before  the  death  of  Charles  the 
Second,  the  flying  coaches  are  extolled  as  far  superior  to  any 

*  Anthony  k  Wood's  Life  of  himself. 

t  Chamberlayne's  State  of  England,  1684.  See  also  the  list  of  stage 
coaches  and  waggons  at  the  end  of  the  book,  entitled  Angliae  Metropolis, 

ENGLAND    IN     1685  285 

similar  vehicles  ever  known  in  the  world.  Their  velocity  is  the 
sul)ject  of  special  commendation,  and  is  triumphantly  con- 
trasted with  the  sluggish  pace  of  the  continental  posts.  But 
with  boasts  like  these  was  mingled  the  sound  of  complaint  and 
invective.  The  interests  of  large  classes  had  been  unfavourably 
affected  by  the  establishment  of  the  new  diligences ;  and,  as 
usual,  many  persons  were,  from  mere  stupidity  and  obstinacy, 
disposed  to  clamour  against  the  innovation,  simply  because  it 
was  an  innovation.  It  was  vehemently  argued  that  this  mode 
of  conveyance  would  be  fatal  to  the  breed  of  horses  and  to  the 
noble  art  of  horsemanship ;  that  the  Thames,  which  had  long 
been  an  important  nursery  of  seamen,  would  cease  to  be  the 
chief  thoroughfare  from  London  up  to  Windsor  and  down  to 
Gravesendj  that  saddlers  and  spurriers  would  be  ruined  by 
hundreds  ;  that  numerous  inns,  at  which  mounted  travellers  had 
been  in  the  habit  of  stopping,  would  be  deserted,  and  would 
no  longer  pay  any  rent ;  that  the  new  carriages  were  too  hot 
in  summer  and  too  cold  in  winter  ;  that  the  passengers  were 
grievously  annoyed  by  invalids  and  crying  children  ;  that  the 
coach  sometimes  reached  the  inn  so  late  that  it  was  impossible 
to  get  supper,  and  sometimes  started  so  early  that  it  was 
impossible  to  get  breakfast.  On  these  grounds  it  was  gravely 
recommended  that  no  pubUc  carriage  should  be  permitted  to 
have  more  than  four  horses,  to  start  oftener  than  once  a  week, 
or  to  go  more  than  thirty  miles  a  day.  It  was  hoped  that,  if 
this  regulation  were  adopted,  all  except  the  sick  and  the  lame 
would  return  to  the  old  mode  of  travelling.  Petitions  embody- 
ing such  opinions  as  these  were  presented  to  the  king  in  council 
from  several  companies  of  the  City  of  London,  from  several 
provincial  towns,  and  from  the  justices  of  several  counties. 
We  smile  at  these  things.  It  is  not  impossible  that  our 
descendants,  when  they  read  the  history  of  the  opposition